Hobby olive farms in vogue with record oil production projected in Victoria

Stephen TaylorJuly 10, 20130 min read

The good oil on olive growing is that business is booming, with record production tipped for Victoria.

And our Indian summer and long clear sunny days and cool nights leading into winter helped make it happen.

In 2007, production was five million litres of oil, and this year growers will harvest a record 15 million litres – about two and half times more than last year. Ten years ago the figure was less than one million litres.

Fairfax Media reports that exports will account for 40% of production, with local demand set to increase by 60% a year.

The weather gods were especially kind to Boundary Bend Limited – Victoria’s largest producer - after two wet winters, says ABC Online.

The vast olive pressing factory in Northern Victoria has 6100 hectares of mature olive plantations split between Swan Hill on the Murray River and Boort in central Victoria. It harvests more than two million trees.

During the pressing season - from March to July - the factory processed a record crop and pressed it into extra virgin olive oil. This year, out of a national forecast of 20 million litres of olive oil, it predicts it will produce about 14 million litres.

Olives thrive in hot, dry conditions like those found in the Middle Eastern, where they originated. So, while the long summer and dry autumn made livestock producers and grain growers anxious, our olive producers were counting their blessings.

The quality of this year’s harvest of olive oil promises to be the best in a decade, a leading producer told The Land.

Across Australia, the crop looks to be up over 80% from 2012 with about 18-20 million litres being produced this year compared with 10.5 million litres last year.

And, based on the results so far from both taste panels and international competitions, the quality of this year’s harvest is also reportedly the best in a decade.

Hobby farm olive groves to hit the market recently include 462 Staffordshire Reef Road (pictured below), Staffordshire Reef, near Ballarat, which sold through Blue Ribbon Ballarat for $320,000.

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Agent Jamie Butterworth says the property with two storey cottage has 250 Tuscan olive trees, 1400 pinot noir vines and two large dams on its 26 acres. It has a modern kitchen, wood heater, underground power, water tanks, good fencing and gully views.

Another olive grove, at 3594 Halls Gap-Ararat Road, Halls Gap, was sold in late April. Bruce McIlvride of Landmark Harcourts – Stawell said Red Rock Olives at Halls Gap was an ideal change of lifestyle on 127 hectares.

It has an extensive olive orchard, food manufacturing facility, small residence and farm-gate shop. He would not disclose the selling price, but said the prices of olive hobby farms ‘’varied widely’’ depending on the size, quantity of trees and levels of production. ‘’You’ve got to find the right buyer-fit,’’ he said.

Ken Maroney Real Estate Greensborough recently sold a four hectare irrigated Arthurs Creek olive grove hobby farm with five bedroom weatherboard for $650,000.

‘’The 300 trees are three to four years old and, in a few years, they should produce a substantial crop of olives,’’ agent Dianne Vissaritis says.

‘’It takes nine years to grow fruit on the trees but they will earn money in the long term. All the hard work was done here.’’

Stephen Taylor

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