Olives evoke an image of sun-drenched Mediterranean landscapes. With our wet grey winters and tepid summers, western Oregon is probably not the first place you think of for growing olives, but many varieties can be grown here, both as ornamental and for fruit production.
Basics of Olive Growing
Olives need maximum sun exposure and excellent drainage. The best time to plant olive trees is in spring or early summer, so they have time to root before cool wet weather sets in. They also prefer a neutral to slightly alkaline soil, so lime will likely be needed.
Prune older trees to open out the center in spring, and fertilize right after pruning. Olives are wind pollinated; many varieties are partially self-fertile, but all will produce better with another variety to cross pollinate. Fruit harvest is late fall, October to as late as you can manage before frost (fruit is damaged at just below freezing).
Varieties of Olives for Oregon
Commercial olive production in Oregon is still in the early stages, and many varieties are being experimented with; but actual tree availability is pretty limited.
Try these varieties for growing here:
Arbosana – excellent olive oil, but less hardy than the others listed when young
Amfissa – Greek variety, great for table olives, hardy
Arbequina – small fruit, but good for oil; very hardy
Frantoio – Top northern Italian variety, very hardy, one of the top table varieties
Leccino – Top quality olive from northern Italy, oil or table olives, quite hardy
Maurino – very hardy and early to mature, good for oil
Seascape – new variety developed in Ukraine, oil or table olives, hardy
Universal – new variety developed in Ukraine, oil or table olives, hardy