A quest for the best Oregon olive


Olive plants trials at NWREC will help determine the hardiest cold weather varieties for growing in Oregon.

The olive industry shows promise as another potential specialty crop in Oregon, but one of the obstacles growers in western Oregon face is susceptibility to cold injury during the winter months. Oregon can be colder than the natural range where olives typically grow in the Mediterranean Sea area. The olive research program at NWREC is looking at different olive varieties (known as cultivars) that might survive in our climate and produce commercial quantities of fruit for oil or table olives.

Olive cultivators, propagated from several sources, are growing in pots at NWREC and scheduled to be planted in the spring of 2021. Although the purpose of the cold tolerance evaluation is primarily to identify hardier cultivars of olives for western Oregon, that alone will not be enough. The hardier cultivars must also produce good yields of quality fruit.

Early evaluations have provided a glimpse at growth and yield potential of olive cultivars, but cold tolerance evaluations take multiple years of testing to ensure results.