My imagination leads me to think, to be a farmer I should wear overalls, a straw hat, carry a pitchfork and have wheatgrass hanging out of my mouth. I live a simple life and dinner is on the table every night after the sun sets.
That iconic image of farming has its appeal but it’s the image of farming long past, let’s fast forward to 21st Century reality. Technology has touched nearly every industry and farming is no exception. It’s important for a farmer to keep up with new practices and initiatives, while also remaining practical, traditional and close to the land.
In farming olives there are three planting; strategies, Traditional Spacing, Super High Density and Medium Density and I’m excited to tell you that Lucero Olive Oil is an expression of all three!
We have 100 year-old trees that make up our Traditional Spacing orchard. The older the olive tree, the broader and more gnarled the trunk becomes. These trees are planted approximately 100 per acre to allow the trees plenty of room to grow large. Hand harvesting was the only option when these trees were planted and it’s still the only option for trees of this age and size. Workers climb to the top of trees on three legged ladders to pick fruit one branch at time. These trees symbolize years of hard work and faith.
600 trees per acre
The olive oil industry has boomed since the development of Super High Density planting. These trees are grown in narrow hedge rows, kept short and harvested mechanically with using harvesters straddling and driving row by row over the trees. This new technology helps provide a high quality harvest in a fraction of the time of manual labor. We are able to harvest 5 tons per hour with this machine. It’s truly impressive!
Well we’ve covered new practices with Super High Density and we’ve stayed close the land with our century-old trees. What now? That’s right! Medium Density planting.
Medium Density is 200 trees per acre allowing the tree a generous amount of sunlight and space. Lucero Olive Oil has planted 160 acres of Medium Density comprised of 10 different olive varieties. We’re combining Tradition with new initiatives. What this means is that we will be hand picking some varieties while experimenting with machine harvest on others.
I’ve learned that to be a farmer, you have to think like a farmer. A farmer continues to learn, and grow with the land and technology as a parallel. A farmer appreciates a hard day’s work and is thankful to be able to work each day. Although very few farmers dress the part, they all seem to have one thing in common, faith.
“Country can be in the middle of a city, Country can be on a farm, Country ain’t even a place on the map, It’s a place in your heart” – Mo Pitney.
Part 1: We Are Growers
Part 2: Where Would You Be Without Agriculture?