• Loddon Herald

Olive harvest finishes

BOUNDARY Bend’s Boort groves have played their part in the Cobram Estate group’s top harvest that will produce 15 million litres of extra virgin olive oil.

Picking at Boort finished last Friday and general manager horticulture Ruth Sutherland said: “It’s been a great growing season ... probably our best ever.”

Ruth said good winter and spring rain, few extreme summer weather events and a mild autumn had been ideal for the Boort groves.

The groves’ regular 25 workers were joined by a seasonal team of 90 when harvest started in April.

Mainly drawn from grey nomads and backpackers, Ruth said COVID border restrictions had created challenges in recruiting workers this year.

““Some were reluctant to come from interstate and we were grateful for the efforts of the team who stayed with us,” Ruth said.

She said facilities being built at Boort Lakes Holiday Park would make working the local harvest more attractive in future. “We’ve a very good partnership with the caravan park.”

The annual harvest workforce is expected to increase as trees at the Boort groves grow.

In the past five years more than 570,000 replacement trees have been planted. Some replaced trees damaged in the 2011-2012 floods.

Another area was planted in March. These trees will begin producing fruit for processing within two years.

Ruth says that increased production at the Boort groves may trigger the need for an upgrade of the processing plant.

“We established the grove in Boort 20 years ago, from scratch. The climate here is terrific and very suited to growing olives.”

Soil improvement and tree management were important in producing the fruit for quality oils, Ruth said.

Cobram Estate’s extra virgin olive oil is sold in major supermarkets across Australia.

“The olives here produce a quality extra virgin oil - the flavour and the chemistry of the oil are top rate,” Ruth said.

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