Spain is the land of the olive, or so her most famous writers say. And they’re not exaggerating! Only in Andalusia, there are approximately 16-thousand square kilometres of olive groves. To get the idea, it would be as if we packed Northern Ireland with them and produced more than half of the olive oil sold in the world.
Olives are the cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet and have been part of Spanish culture since before the Roman Empire. Although the fruit has remained unchanged, olive farming has seen some technological advancement.
How to pick olives
In Spain, olive harvesting begins mid-October and can last until January, depending on the area and the type of olive. Taking into account what the fruit will be used for, a harvesting method will be preferred over another.
Traditional olive harvesting methods in Spain
In the past, people would wait until olives were ripping and fell on their own before picking them up.
Hand-picking and knocking the olives down were also common, and they’re methods still used to this day.
Hand-picked olives are mostly used for gourmet products and extra-virgin olive oil. Since the fruit does not touch the ground, it remains intact.
Harvest by knocking consists of hitting each branch with a stick trying not to harm neither the fruit nor the tree.
Petrol-fuelled and electric olive shakers
Hitting the tree with a stick is not, no matter how careful you are, the most delicate method to harvest olives. In the long run, the tree’s health will resent and future harvest seasons can be affected by it. For that reason, sticks have been replaced by electric olive harvesters that are easier to use, respectful to the tree and much faster.
An olive shaker is formed by a long, metallic rod with fingers in one end. It’s connected to a small petrol engine or an electric motor that shakes the fingers, transferring the vibration to the branches until the olives fall to an already protected ground.
Most automatic olive harvesters can be stretched to reach higher branches and used without the telescopic rod for the lowest ones.
In herramientaprofesional.com you will find different olive shakers – electric, battery-powered and petrol-fuelled – that will come in handy whenever you need to pick olives in small orchards or harvest hard-to-reach trees.
We would like to highlight Makita’s HL360DZBL4 cordless olive harvester – a lightweight tool that comes with eight 18-volt battery cartridges that will allow you to work for up to 9 hours.
The olive-harvesting tractors are heavy machinery that latches onto the trunk, shaking it until all the olives have fallen. It is usually used with automatic umbrella-like collectors that direct the fruit to another truck and to a processing plant.