Growing olives and Producing Oil


Brian Chatterton

First published by Pulcini Press in 2006

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An ebook on CD


combines the thousands of years of olive growing tradition in Italy with the most recent research from Italian and other famous research centres.

Like DISCOVERING OIL (now into its third edition) GROWING OLIVES aims to provide information to small growers in the Mediterranean region, Australia and New Zealand.

Sections of this ebook cover:

* Pruning, recuperating old trees and training young ones.

* Picking, processing and tasting.

* Landcare, fertilisers and irrigation.

* How to increase profits on small groves.

* Marketing and deciphering labels

Published in 2005 by Pulcini Press, Castel di Fiori, Italy.

To purchase the ebook contact Pulcini Press email:

"Growing olives for quality oil" is a condensed version of "Growing olives and producing oil" for the Amazon Kindle. Because of the large number and quality of the photographs in the original ebook the Kindle version became too big to handle easily. A number of photos have been culled and reduced in size but the essential ones that demonstrate pruning and other practical operations have been retained. The text has not been changed.


What is an ebook? "Growing olives and Producing oil" comes as a CD that one loads into a computer. It can then be read with a normal internet browser such as Internet Explorer, Safari, Netscape etc. I have produced it in this form because colour photos and diagrams are expensive to reproduce. To print the ebook in a conventional paper form would cost more than one hundred euros a copy.

"Growing olives for quality oil" is in the Kindle format but can be read on your computer in colour and on the Apple iPad.

To purchase the Kindle version:


In USA and other countries

In Germany

In France

In Italy

Operations in the grove

There are four chapters detailing the seasonal operations in the olive grove.
Numerous photos and diagrams in the WINTER chapter help explain the various pruning systems. They help growers make a reality check on the effectiveness of their pruning.
The AUTUMN chapter draws on much Italian research to compare different systems of hand, semi-mechanical and mechanical picking for efficiency and cost.
SPRING provides many ideas on landcare, irrigation and water harvesting. Olives as a means of reducing soil salinity is discussed.

After the olives leave the grove

The e-book includes chapters on processing the olives into oil, the taste, quality and marketing of oil. Labelling and terroir are discussed and explained. These chapter are relevant to consumers of olive oil as well as growers.

Management strategies for small growers

The e-book is intended for small olive growers and for people with olives in their gardens. There are a few chapters that develop management systems for small growers which allow them to compete with the large mechanised groves.


The e-book is available from Hunters Wines, P.O. Box 128 Renwick, Marlborough, New Zealand. Email <>

For people living in Europe and the rest of the world I can supply the e-book directly. Contact me at <> for more details.


Australian and New Zealand Olivegrower and Processor. September - October 2006 Issue 51

The ancient olive on ebook

Author and olivegrower Brian Chatterton has put together a comprehensive guide on growing olives and producing oil tailored to the small grower in a compact and easy to use ebook.
The CD Growing Olives and Producing Oil, accessible in either PC or Apple systems, is a store of information on the latest practices in cultivating and processing this ancient fruit.
From his grove in the Italian region of Umbria Chatterton has packaged a guide that gives the best from thousands of years of tradition and the latest from modern olive research and practices.
The book covers all aspects of growing and processing with sections on pruning, picking, land care and how to increase profits on small groves.
Calling it an ebook is almost misleading because its multimedia format allows the presentation of illustrations, charts and words in a much more extensive and vivid way than the printed page.
It's a form and format that works well particularly because it has, for example, more scope to illustrate the intricacies and implications of pruning. That section has about 50 photographs and charts.
The ebook's other major asset is that it is easy to navigate. Its various sections are ideal for retrieval of information on a range of topics.
As well as having the contents listed in conventional chapters there is a seasonal collation of information for winter, spring, summer and autumn.
Each of these sections gives an overview of the major issues and considerations for that time and stage in the plant's life.
There are also two sections dedicated to specific information and advice for the small grower: "The small grove and olives in the garden" and "Survive and thrive as a small grower."
There are also comprehensive sections on processing, tasting and marketing which have invaluable tips and summaries of current wisdom about olives and olive oil.
Chatterton litters his guide with careful and considered opinion written with authority from a person who has a good grasp of the practical as well as the theory and is conversant with the old as well as the new as he shows in the following comment on gas filled bottles.

"Many Australian and New Zealand growers have come to olivegrowing from grapegrowing and winemaking and have immediately assumed that filling the bottle with an inert gas such as nitrogen is a good idea. Research carried our in Italy shows that it is not clear cut. There seems to be little benefit unless the oil is kept into the second year. The oils from the south benefit more than those from the centre where anti-oxidant levels are generally higher."

Chatterton's latest contribution in literature on the olive industry is a great starter for anyone wanting to learn about olivegrowing and oil production, but it also serves to update knowledge and makes a great resource and reference tool.
It informs but its style and form also allows the user to engage.

The author

After his early years in India where he was born in 1941 Brian Chatterton's family moved to Adelaide. From school in Adelaide he went to the University of Reading in Britain for his degree in agriculture. After graduating Brian took over the family farm at Lyndoch in the Barossa Valley. The 500 ha. farm grew cereals, sheep and vines and Brian added a winery to the farm enterprises. Olives had been planted around the homestead and along some tracks but they were not harvested for olives.
In the early 1970s he became a part time journalist writing about wine and farming in the local paper. In 1973 he became an MP and a couple of years later became Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests for the Labor Government in South Australia. He resigned in 1983 and in 1987 he became consultant on dryland farming in West Asia and North Africa, In 1990 with his wife Lynne, to use as a base, they purchased an abandoned farm in Umbria with a small olive grove where they live. They recounted their experiences in Discovering Oil.

The Mediterranean Garden No 47 January 200. Pages 58 to 60

Growing Olives and Producing Oil

by Brian Chatterton

Review by Caroline Harbouri.

This, the first e-book to be reviewed on these pages, might well be subtitled "Everything you always wanted to know about growing olives but didn't know who to ask". It is an easy to use, rich compendium of information set out in chapters accessible at a mouse-click, with additional more detailed information a simple further click away. It is illustrated throughout with photographs and clear diagrams. When complex data are discussed - on, for example (I'm selecting at random). rainfall or olive cultivars - they are summarized in straightforward tables. Where applicable, recent research is cited.

The rhythm of the olive-growing year is reflected in the titles of the four major chapters, 'Winter', 'Spring', 'Summer', and 'Autumn'. Further chapters are entitled 'Olives in a Small Grove and the Garden', 'Survive and Thrive as a Small Grower', 'Processing', 'The Taste of Olive OIl' and 'Marketing', while 'Contents by Chapters' and 'Index' enable the reader to go directly to the subject on which he or she seeks information.

One of the most daunting questions for the novice olive-grower is that of pruning. "The purpose of pruning is to keep a good balance between the vegetative wood and the fruiting wood", explains Brian Chatterton, adding that in Italy a well pruned olive is held to be one through which a bird can fly... In the 'Winter' chapter he provides a detailed discussion of the various shapes into which olive trees are pruned and their advantages or disadvantages as regards harvesting. Diagrams show exactly how this pruning should be carried out. Information is given on how to recuperate neglected trees or those damaged by frost or fire.

'Spring' addresses another much-debated topic, namely whether or not the olive grove should be cultivated, i.e. tilled. The arguments both for and against this practice are presented in such a manner that the reader may decide for himself whether or not to cultivate; for those wishing to do so, the practical techniques and implements to be used are described in detail. Brian Chatterton himself, however, comes down on the side of no cultivation, discussing the problem of soil erosion and, importantly, the destruction of the soil structure to which cultivation is a major contributing factor. Moreover he points out that leguminous plants (the wild clovers and vetches for example) provide nitrogen for the olive trees and notes - this is a timely comment - "Soils that are excessively cultivated release their organic carbon in the form of carbon dioxide. Restoring organic matter through pasture will return carbon to the soil". He returns to the subject of soil structure in the 'Autumn' chapter when he speaks of autumn rains, remarking "There is only one route to better penetration by rainfall and that is better structured soil".

The 'Spring' chapter also provides a discussion on the use of fertiliser and a clear explanation for the layman of the chemical elements and compounds involved.

Naturally autumn is the season when olives are harvested, so the 'Autumn' chapter includes a detailed discussion on oil percentages and crop yield, as well as the various methods of harvesting olives and on their storage and transport. The 'Processing' chapter adds thorough information on traditional and modern methods of oil processing. For those (mainly inhabitants of non-olive-producing countries) who have a romantic hankering for the traditional ways of doing things, Chatterton remarks with splendid waspishness, "The Italian consumer is more discerning than any in the North of Europe and would not accept an olive oil from a centrifuge if the oil was inferior in quality to that from a traditional press and mats"; for "Italian" here one could just as well substitute "French", Spanish" or "Greek" ....

Misplaced longings for the good old days and the imagined charms of the simple life are indeed tartly reprimanded ("The peasant farmer in a developing country would not accept that there is a 'quality of life' about being poor" ). Yet one of the attractive aspects of the book is Chatterton's awareness of the age-old traditional knowledge of olive cultivation in the Mediterranean countries; on hand-picking, for example, he remarks that "In our modern urban society rural skills such as picking grapes and olives are under-rated as they are acquired through years of experience rather than training." He marshals all the data about the best period for harvesting olives, then adds that the traditional date for beginning picking in his part of Umbria - St. Catherine's Day, November 25th - is supported by the scientific findings. He cites Cato on the use of "vegetative water" (i.e. the bitter juices of the olive discarded when the fruit is pressed) as an insecticide in ancient Roman granaries, painted on the walls and floor and allowed to dry in order to discourage weevils, then notes that its effectiveness is currently the subject of research at an Australian university.

Brian Chatterton naturally draws on his experience of growing olives in Italy; however, the principles and practices he discussed are not place-specific and are thus equally applicable to other Mediterranean olive-growing countries. Moreover, although long resident in Italy, he is Australian by birth. He thus includes information on growing olives in Australia and New Zealand - a refreshing addition which broadens the audience for this book.

Brian Chatterton writes authoritatively and informatively. I highly recommend this e-book to anyone who grows olives.

Caroline Harbouri.