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Growing olives in south Georgia?

A growing interest in the commercial production of blueberries, grapes and even olives in south Georgia has prompted University of Georgia Extension Service personnel to schedule an educational program on the topic to be held here next week.
Grady County Extension Agent Don Clark reported this week that he has invited Dr. Gerard Krewer, Extension Service Horticulturist and Fruit Crops specialist, to join him in presenting an informative/research-based classroom session on the commercial production of blueberries, grapes and olives.
“Blueberries and grapes are the easiest fruit crops to grow in south Georgia, and they can be very profitable. Our proximity to the large Tallahassee market would give local producers a strong market for fresh berries and grapes,” Clark said.
The Extension Service agent also says the crops are very disease and insect resistant.
“You can produce a satisfactory crop without spraying at all, but we can double the yield by spraying to protect the plants from disease and insects,” Clark said.
Clark is somewhat skeptical about olive production in this area because of the humidity and disease pressures that exist, as well as insects, but he notes that there has been interest shown both here and elsewhere about commercial olive production.
Although too young to produce just now, Clark says that a 10-acre tract and a 30-acre tract of olive trees have been planted in Lowndes and Lanier counties.
According to Clark, it takes olive trees three to four years to begin producing fruit.
“Everyone recommends cooking with olive oil and, apparently, some producers are interested in producing olives for olive oil. If it proves to be successful, I suspect they could invest in an olive press,” Clark said.
The seminar will be held next Thursday, Mar. 18, beginning at 11 a.m. in the Grady County Agri-Center auditorium. A lunch will be served and the program will conclude at 1:30 p.m. following a question and answer session.
Clark says producers and anyone interested in learning more about the production of blueberries, grapes and olives must register to attend by calling 229-377-1312.

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