The Olive tree is considered the Greek tree with greatest value. Since the ancient times, the Olive tree, was so much respectful that the Olympic Games winners were receiveing am olive stephane as an award for the win. Crete has many thousands sq meters of Olive trees. The quality of the olives and the olive oil is known. The eastern and southern part of the island hold the most international awards for the quality.
We feel privileged to live in a country where olive cultivation dates back to 5,000 B.C., documented during the Minoan civilization. Cretan farmers have literally grown up along side their trees as, traditionally, land is inherited from generation to generation. A deep love for their land and a profound respect for their olive trees is the main reason Cretan farmers still cultivate their olive trees using traditional methods. Modern production models of super-intensive cultivation, such as those adopted in Spain, in California and other new producing countries are not acceptable to us or practiced at Terra Creta. We believe that high quality olive oil simply cannot be produced with the excessive use of heat and chemicals or by stressing the tree just to produce a large crop.
The olive trees are present everywhere in Crete.
The trees are perfectly adapted in the climate and soils of the island thus producing an excellent oil commanding the highest reputation and recognition.
The distinct golden green colours and fine aromas, the light fruity tasteand the thickened liquid texture are best balanced in
Cretan olive oil .
Tasting traditional Cretan recipes, prepared with cretan olive oil, is a gastronomic experience as it offers a unique taste while it is healthy and nutritious. Olive trees are a characteristic element of the Mediterranean ecosystem and landscape. Olive oil was produced during the Minoan era in Crete, that is at least 5000 years ago and it was one of the main products of the island.
The most abundant olive variety in the region of Malevizi is the Koroneiki olive. This very small olive produces an exceptionally fine, fruity, green, aromatic olive oil.
It is cultivated mainly on the island of Crete, in regions of the Peloponnes and on the islands of Ionian sea. 60% of the Greek olive groves are of Koroneiki variety. The tree is between 5 to 7 meters in height and has dark-green leaves of about 5,47 cm in length and 1.03 cm in width. The olive fruit, has an average weight of 1,3 grams and the ratio between flesh and the pit is 6,6:1, while the percentage of olive oil can be up to 27%. It is consider to be a very productive variety and suitable for warm – dry climates. It can be cultivated up to 500 meters above sea level. The second most popular variety is the Tsounato or tsounolia tree variety, an unexplored treasure.
Olive trees on Crete range in age of 30 to 3,000 years old.
Cultivation is still carried out in the traditional Cretan way in our olive groves. The cultivation cycle starts in mid-February immediately fgollowing the end of the harvest. Pruning is a key stage that formulates the shape of branches to allow enough air and sun exposure on the clusters of olive fruit. Pruning an olive tree is truly an art. The farmer must carefully prune each tree individually according to its needs, maintaining the overall, long-term plan identifying the shape and production history of every single tree.
The next important step is to apply fertilizer to the soil, when necessary, to stimulate the soil and ensure that the proper nutrients are retained from season to season. Frequently, the only nutrients needed are in the leaves and branches that have naturally fallen during the season. They get plough into the soil and are regenerated as food for the olive tree. The grass underneath the tree must also be cut and the weeds removed in order to allow water and nutrients to be better absorbed, as well as to prevent them from hindering the harvest. In the cultivation process, removal of weeds is carried out by mechanical means (tractors or cutters) and, in very rare cases, a slight spraying used. On the rare occasion when more intensive weed control measures must be taken, it is always applied lightly and with as little as possible in order to better sustain the environment and allow the tree to flourish.
Only 30% of our olive groves are irrigated, which produces a higher yield. For the rest of the trees there is no need for irrigation since natural water sources are sufficient to keep the tree and the crop at optimum hydration levels. The quality of olives and olive oil produced from these trees is superior, rich in fruitiness and beneficial nutritional elements.
The region of Kandanos produces approximately 14.000.000kg of olive oil per year being the most important olive oil region on the island of Crete. In fact, there are 40 million olive trees on Crete, which produces more olive oil than all of the Greek islands and mainland combined. The harvesting of olives occurs from November through January. At the beginning of the season, in November, the newly produced olive oil is green and spicy; in Greece this early-season oil is called ‘agurelaio’, meaning “un-ripe olive oil”. Additionally, these early olive yields produce less olive oil than the more mature olives harvested in December and January, but are more intense and full of phenolic antioxidants. The mature olives are purple to black in color. To produce one kg of olive oil in November, approximately four to six kg of green olives are required; however, in December and January one kg of oil can be produced from only three kg of the mature olives. When it is time to harvest the olives, farmers lay large, nets under the trees and use slender, hand-held poles about the size of a broom handle, to gently loosen the olives allowing them to fall into the nets below.
They then gather up the nets by hand, and using a hand-held grate, they sift the harvested olives removing any leaves or twigs that have fallen onto the nets. Then the olives are brought to the olive mill for same-day processing, in order to ensure the highest quality and attain the freshest product.
Manual harvesting is very labor intensive as one farmer can only harvest approximately 150 kg of olives a day, which may yield 15Kg of olive oil; however, this gentle procedure is key to ensure a fresh, premium tasting olive oil with a delicate aroma.