Olive orchard management training offered in Victoria
May 26, 2014 at 12:26 a.m.
Anyone with questions about Texas' potential olive industry can ask the professionals Thursday.
Specialists from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will host a daylong training session for prospective and current olive growers at the Victoria Educational Gardens Pavilion.
"Olive production in Texas is relatively new," said Peter McGuill, Victoria County AgriLife Extension agent. "This is the time to ask questions."
"Olive Orchard Management: Planning, Practices and Challenges" will be presented by fruit crops specialists Larry Stein, of Uvalde; Jim Kamas, of Fredericksburg; and Monte Nesbitt, extension specialist of College Station.
The specialists will discuss soil and site preparation, irrigation and nutrition, varieties, disease control, weed management and other topics important to growing olives in Texas.
Interest in the new crop started sprouting up about 10 to 12 years ago, McGuill said, with a few orchards popping up here and there.
A few weeks ago, the specialists traveled to California with Jim Henry, Texas Olive Ranch owner, to learn more about the tree crop.
"The Texas AgriLife scientists were exposed to the California way of growing olives," Henry said. "It's the world leader in production per acre."
The meeting in Victoria is for anyone who is already in the business, interested in the business or curious about how it pertains to Texas, Henry said.
But what works in California may not work here, he said, so growers can't expect to duplicate its methods. That's where he expects the specialists' expertise in Texas growing conditions to help educate the olive-growing community.
"They know how different the Texas growers' market is," Henry said. "That's what's important in this meeting."
Henry will also open his olive ranch to the session attendees after the training. He will demonstrate how he plants his trees.
"Growing olives in Texas is pure agriculture. It's hard work, and it's speculation. It is not a paved road to riches," Henry said. "It's a serious endeavor."
McGuill admitted he doesn't know much about the tree crop and will be there to learn more about it alongside other people interested in growing olives.
"If they're thinking about doing this, the best way to make a decision is to get as much information as you can," said McGuill.