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Hot Crops: What Are Farmers Asking About?

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Hops, An Up and Coming Crop in North Carolina

Can I grow olives commercially in North Carolina?

Olives are a Mediterranean crop, and U.S. production is mostly in California. The most popular commercial varieties probably will not thrive in our environment. However, there are several individuals across the state who have a few olive trees that seem to do very well. They are located in the piedmont. So, it’s not that olives won’t grow at all in North Carolina, they probably just won’t do well enough to get the yields and quality to be competitive with the big production areas. If someone really wants to try growing some olives, I would suggest researching all the varieties that are available and ordering a few of the ones that look like they have the best chance of surviving in our area. These might not be the highest yielding varieties, but to start we just want them to survive and produce olives. Most olives, even the hardiest, will probably not make it through the winter if it gets below 12 degrees F. But, if someone could even get small yields from the trees, there are niche market opportunities for them, such as fresh market sales to upscale restaurants and natural food stores who cater to the buy local customer. And the grower could make value-added products such as specialty packed olives and boutique oils. Those could be sold, for example, to local wineries for cross-mechanizing with local wines.

To get more information on olives, go to:

Jeanine Davis, NC Alternative Crops & Organics Program, Department of Horticultural Science, NC State University (reviewed and updated 5/12/2023).