This year's California table olive crop is the pits
FRESNO, Calif.â€”Bartenders soon may think twice about giving away extra olives with that martini.
Table olive prices are expected to go up as California growers face their second-lightest harvest in more than a decade.
State and federal agriculture officials are predicting that the table olive crop will be down by half this year because of harsh spring weather.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture survey released today predicts 65,000 tons of olives are in the field. But growers say fewer than 45,000 tons will actually be harvested because of rising fuel and labor costs.
TEMPLETON -- The outlook for olives is not so good this season.
State and federal agriculture officials predict the table olive crop will be down by half this year because of harsh spring weather.
Many local growers who harvest olives for oil agree with that prediction.
"We're estimating we've probably lost 60% of our crop and we still have to make the business decision if it's worth going in an harvesting," said Paul Clark of Chapel Hill Olive Oil.
Olives are native to the Mediterranean region and require a long, hot growing season in order to thrive. Local farmers say northern San Luis Obispo County is typically ideal, but this year was atypical.
In April, when all the buds were forming, a freeze hit the area, killing some olive trees. In May, a hot spell made things worse, followed by a big wind.
KCOY CBS 12 spoke with one local grower who says three days of harsh winds wiped out about 99% of his crop.
In a survey released on Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts 65,000 tons of olives are in the field, but growers say fewer than 45,000 tons will actually be taken off the trees because of rising fuel and labor costs.
It could mean consumers will be paying more for their olives and oil.
"I think if a consumer is interested in buying California extra virgin oil they could very well see an increase in that price because it is statewide and it's not just olive oil, but it's also table olives," said Clark.
Olive Outlook: It's the Pits - California Central Coast News KCOY CBS Channel 12 Santa Maria San Luis Obispo Santa Barbara