CSU, Chico

New Olive Orchard at the University Farm

New Olive Orchard at the University Farm

With the help of a coalition of industry supporters, the California State University, Chico University Farm added to its diverse educational opportunities by planting a 10-acre high-density olive orchard.

October 7 marked the completion of planting two of the varieties, Arbequina and Arbosana, with Chiquitita still in progress. Chiquitita is a new variety of olive, and planting stock is still being acquired.

All the young trees and the resources necessary to plant them, such as the irrigation system, trellis system, land development and labor, were donated to the University Farm. Contributing partners include Matt Lohse, Nurstech, Durham Pump, Matt Anchordoguy Co., A&J Vineyards and California Olive Ranch.

The University Farm is expecting its first harvest in approximately two to three years, and the olives will be made into olive oil and marketed through the CSU, Chico Farm. “It will also provide an opportunity for students interested in marketing and processing practices to apply business and manufacturing principles in the production and sale of a boutique olive oil product,” said Plant Science Professor Rich Rosecrance.

The trees will serve as research subjects for the relatively new system of high-density olive production in California. The oldest-high density olive orchard is in Gridley, Calif., and is only about 15 years old.  “The North State is the center of high-density olive oil production in California.  Thus, planting this orchard could provide real benefits to this fledgling industry,” said Rosecrance. “The research possibilities are numerous, including not only production but irrigation, fertilization, orchard longevity, and marketing opportunities as well.”