Among all phases of oil production process, the harvest is one of the most important due to its impact on the final quality of the product. The characteristics that assure to the oil the extra virgin label, and in particular for those of superior quality, depend on very much on the harvest, together with the transport and milling. We deliberately do not mention the storage as we do not consider it a suitable word for high quality oil production. In our olive grove the harvest is carried out at different times due to the different earning maturation of the various cultivars. The objective is to collect the olives at the moment of veraison, when from the bright green color they turn towards the dark green and the beginning of the violet. Attention to identifying the right time for harvesting is one of the factors that most influences the definition of the character of the oil, exalting its fragrance and developing a higher or lower level of spicy and bitter. All these are the effects of polyphenols present in the olives and in greater quantities in the initial state of maturation. The olives are detached from the plants with the aid of mechanical harvesters, fed by batteries, and dropped into the nets placed under the plant. Harvesting was by manual stripping where the pickers on the ground, or on the stairs to access the highest branches of the plant, used the hand-shaped comb to detach the olives. The use of stairs is no longer possible as prohibited by the regulations for workers safety. The use of mechanical harvesters allows to find a sustainable balance by combining:
- good efficiency in detaching the olives that are still at the beginning of maturation
- maintaining the integrity of the olives while preserving their properties the olives do not suffer physical traumas that would trigger processes of oxidation
- the economic satisfaction of the collectors who manage to achieve good daily quantities
- lower collection costs, compared to manual stripping, for the farm - harvesting is the first cost in quality olive oil production.
- occupational safety
The olives are moved from the nets inside the small perforated plastic boxes to be transported to the mill on average every 4-5 hours.