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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

UCD offers short course for olive lovers

UC Davis is offering a two-day short course on the growing of olives and production of olive oil from Apr. 18 to 19. The course, held in Lodi, will feature professional olive growers, tree-fruit research specialists, and international olive experts. Attendees do not need a background in olive oil production to attend.

The course is specifically designed for beginners, said Paul Vossen, organizer of the event and Farm Advisor for the Sonoma and Marin Counties Fruits and Vegetables Marketing.

The course covers olive-related topics like orchard establishment, olive production in Spain, harvesting equipment and dealing with pests like the olive fruit fly.

We’ll get in depth in specifics for people who are already growers, Vossen said.

The short course is co-sponsored by the UCD Fruit and Nut Research and Information Center, the UC Cooperative Extension in Sonoma County and the UCD Olive Center.

Attendees can register online at fruitsandnuts.ucdavis.edu. Vossen said he expects 80 to 100 people to attend.

During the Friday courses, the group will visit Corto Olive, an olive orchard in Lodi, for field talks and demonstrations.

Brady Witlow, the president of the olive mill at Corto Olive, will give a tour of the mill and explain the equipment that turns olives into olive oil.

I will explain our reasons for entering the California olive oil business, Witlow said.

An olive mill is where the olives are crushed and the oil is extracted. Witlow said attendees of the course will be able to see the large operation at the mill as well as a smaller mill.

We’re going to give insight and tips on why we picked the equipment we did, and we’ll talk about the hurdles and pitfalls of the business, Witlow said.

Witlow said the group will also visit the olive orchard.

The international speakers at the event are Angelo Godina, an olive expert from the University of Bari, Italy, and Joan Tous, an expert from Spain. Tous will speak about the different methods of harvesting olives.

Registration for the course is $550 and includes two books, breakfast, lunches, the dinner banquet, buses, and travel expenses for the foreign experts. The course is located at Hutchins St. Square Conference Center in Lodi.

Dan Flynn, executive director of the UCD Olive Center, said that this short course has been offered before, but not annually.

Depending on the response, I think it could emerge as an annual event, Flynn said.

Flynn said that there is a growing interest in the olive oil business in California.

Newcomers are welcome, Flynn said.

The university itself is a newcomer to the olive oil industry. UC Davis has long been a part of olive research, but the university recently became involved in olive oil production. Since 2005, the UCD Department of Operations and Maintenance has harvested olives from the 1,500 olive trees on campus. The olives are harvested in the late fall and milled in Palermo. The extra-virgin olive oil is sold at the UCD Bookstore.

 

MADELINE McCURRY SCHMIDT can be reached at campus@californiaaggie.comXXX

 

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