to its mild climate, Crete is an ideal place for the development of
olive trees and thousands of families make a living from cultivating
these trees. Both the climate and the composition of the Cretan soil
guarantee the fine aroma and superb flavour of the Cretan olive oil,
which is internationally acknowledged for its high quality. Winter
is the time that olives are picked and olive oil is produced at olive-oil
The olive harvest period starts in November and lasts till March.
The olives are ready to be picked when the fruit is 3/4 ripe. This
means that it should be purple or close to black. If it is allowed
to ripe fully then the quality of the olive oil deteriorates and the
In Crete the olive harvest is mechanical. Special portable equipment
is used. This results in a fast harvest when the weather conditions
allow it. The weather should NOT be windy or rainy.
Special nets or big pieces of synthetic fabric are placed under the
trees. Their use is to collect the olives that drop from the trip and
their placement is a job for women and children. Men operate the harvesters.
It is very common for relatives and friends to help each other for
the olive harvest. Everything has to be done efficiently and fast because
the whole procedure is weather dependant and weather in the winter
is rarely good.
The harvesters consist of a portable generator and a T-shape rod with
elastic sticks attached to it. The rod is 2-3 meters long and it is
connected to the generator with a long cable (15 meters). The head
of the rod rotates fast and the elastic sticks hit the olives and throw
them on the nets under the tree. When almost all olives have been harvested
from a tree, then they proceed to the next tree. This means that the
nets have to be emptied into sacks and then placed under the next tree.
about mechanical olive harvesters
clips showing the use of the mechanical harvesters. Suggested
videoclips 1 and 5 in high quality
Harvesting starts early in the morning and lasts till late afternoon
(8:30 - 16:00) with a noon break for lunch. At then end of the day
the full sacks are taken to the oil mills. This is done at the end
of each day, even if harvesting lasts for several days and the reason
is that if the olives won't be processed immediately, then the oxidation
will result in a lower quality olive oil. The oil has to come out perfect.
With 70% of all production in Greece being Extra Virgin Olive Oil,
it is not a quantity but a quality game and everybody abides by the
Twenty years ago no mechanical harvesters existed in Crete and the
traditional way of harvesting was with long wooden sticks that the
farmers used to hit the olives. Another form of olive harvesting is
with small handheld plastic "combs" that comb the olives
off the branches. This is used only when the trees are very young and
presenting the use of combs and ladders for olive harvest
At the Oil Mill
At the oil mill the fruit is put into a bid feeding hopper attached
to a moving belt and the leaves are removed. Afterwards the fruit is
washed to remove any foreign materials. The olives are crushed and
the olive oil is separated. Finally the olive oil is delivered to the
produced and he stores it into metallic tanks or glass bottles. Plastic
tanks are not suitable for storing olive oil.
Olive Oil is produced, information about the olive oil extraction