Blog

Update November 2023

Hi everyone,
We hope that you are continuing to enjoy our Shalumar Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which we tend to call EVOO!
We entered our oil in the Australian International Olive Awards: and we have been awarded a Silver Medal. We were in the Robust Oil category: the choice is Mild, Medium or Robust.
The judges’ comments were:
Fresh fruitiness with floral, herb and green tea notes. Abundant aromas, with a high transfer to the palate. Additional fresh hay, meadow, and citrus on the palate. Warm and creamy mouthfeel. Slightly astringent with big bitterness and black pepper that is a little out of balance. Complex and persistent oil.
This is a great result for us considering the challenging past season.
In the cycle of olives, the trees have just flowered in late October, and we are waiting to see how much fruit sets on the trees. In the Hunter generally flowering has been modest, mainly attributed to a dry June and July, the period when the trees decide on their spring flowering. Growers with Hunter River irrigation who have abundant water and used it in June and July are faring better. Shalumar has only surface dams on our farm for water: we have to be much more prudent in water usage. Harvest will be modest in May, with bottling in June.
As we all now know an El Nino is upon us: the rain stopped in the Hunter more or less at the start of winter: our main dam is gradually going down!
On a wider front, we have finished calving, and we are hand feeding every second day until our kikuyu pasture gets growing again. For drought insurance we have taken delivery of a truckload of Lucerne hay, hauled all the way from the Murray Valley. The last lot lasted 5 years, we hope this delivery lasts as long, but everyone is nervous regarding the weather outlook moving forward.
We are reasonably prepared for bushfires. One can always do more! We have had the big jet water bomber going over us, whilst the helicopters were pulling their water from our neighbour’s dam. This was for what became called the Kearsley fire.
We still have a few bottles of oil left, so order now, if you haven’t already done so, or would like more for Christmas. Prices are unchanged:
1 bottle $20, 2 bottles $40, 4 bottles $77, 8 bottles $147.
Email me on shalumar01@gmail.com or asmith51@bigpond.net.au or text me.
As usual I will walk around and deliver it for those of you on the Point.


Alan and Jocelyn Smith
0419255949

Shalumar Harvest Update 2023

After a two year hiatus, we have just harvested 1.6 tonnes of olives from the grove. Coming from 400 trees, this is a light crop, but nevertheless a crop! In 2022 there was almost no crop at all in most of the Hunter Valley.

We now have our own olive mill. This means gone are the days of harvesting everything in a mad rush to send off to the big olive mill, we now can harvest each variety as it matures. Our new olive mill is very small, a nominal 40kgs per hour. In practice with setup and clean down it is more like 30kgs per hour! But it gives us complete control of our Shalumar Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

The oil is currently settling, we will rack it off in the next two weeks, and then start bottling. Like 2021 our extra virgin olive oil is a rich, flavoursome, mild style oil.

Pricing for 2023 for our 500ml bottles is:

                              1             bottle    $20

                              2             bottles  $40

                              4             bottles  $75

                              8             bottles  $147

                              12           bottles  $215

For early orders email me on shalumar01@gmail.com or text on 0419255949

Last year was quite tough, too much water! We could not get the tractor onto the grove or pasture for months. As a consequence we have some disease damage in the grove, and the pasture is difficult to walk on from the cattle sinking in to the ground as they grazed. Now we appear to be heading for dry conditions which will introduce a new set of stresses.

One outcome of the big wet is we learnt why we have no fish in our dams: we have some very large eels, one got washed over the spillway and stranded in one of the flood events. Farm dams either have fish or eels, never both apparently.

The Black Angus cattle continue to prosper. We are now transitioning to Angus Lowline cattle. As the name suggests these guys are about two third the size of a normal Angus. They are full of personality and a bit of mischief.

With support from Local Land Services we have fenced off the last section of unfenced creek on Shalumar. This involved a lot of fencing, relocating a water trough, and planting 600 tube stock trees and shrubs. Unlike 2022 we had some bad frosts in May 2023, so I expect we will have some replanting to do.

The other big project we are working on is subdividing some of our paddocks to allow for more rotational grazing. We are splitting 5 paddocks into 10 paddocks of around 2 hectares each. This involves fencing and 5 new water troughs.

So retirement for Jocelyn and I continues to be full on busy.

 

June 2023 Post Harvest Update

After a two year hiatus, we have just harvested 1.6 tonnes of olives from the grove. Coming from 400 trees, this is a light crop, but nevertheless a crop! In 2022 there was almost no crop at all in most of the Hunter Valley.

We now have our own olive mill. This means gone are the days of harvesting everything in a mad rush to send off to the big olive mill, we now can harvest each variety as it matures. Our new olive mill is very small, a nominal 40kgs per hour. In practice with setup and clean down it is more like 30kgs per hour! But it gives us complete control of our Shalumar Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

The oil is currently settling, we will rack it off in the next two weeks, and then start bottling. Like 2021 our extra virgin olive oil is a rich, flavoursome, mild style oil.

Pricing for 2023 for our 500ml bottles is:

                              1             bottle    $20

                              2             bottles  $40

                              4             bottles  $75

                              8             bottles  $147

                              12           bottles  $215

For early orders email me on shalumar01@gmail.com or text on 0419255949

Last year was quite tough, too much water! We could not get the tractor onto the grove or pasture for months. As a consequence we have some disease damage in the grove, and the pasture is difficult to walk on from the cattle sinking in to the ground as they grazed. Now we appear to be heading for dry conditions which will introduce a new set of stresses.

One outcome of the big wet is we learnt why we have no fish in our dams: we have some very large eels, one got washed over the spillway and stranded in one of the flood events. Farm dams either have fish or eels, never both apparently.

The Black Angus cattle continue to prosper. We are now transitioning to Angus Lowline cattle. As the name suggests these guys are about two third the size of a normal Angus. They are full of personality and a bit of mischief.

With support from Local Land Services we have fenced off the last section of unfenced creek on Shalumar. This involved a lot of fencing, relocating a water trough, and planting 600 tube stock trees and shrubs. Unlike 2022 we had some bad frosts in May 2023, so I expect we will have some replanting to do.

The other big project we are working on is subdividing some of our paddocks to allow for more rotational grazing. We are splitting 5 paddocks into 10 paddocks of around 2 hectares each. This involves fencing and 5 new water troughs.

So retirement for Jocelyn and I continues to be full on busy.

April 2nd 2022 Update

I hope that you are continuing to enjoy our Shalumar Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Don’t hoard it, use it. Olive oil gradually deteriorates with age!

At the Hunter Olive Show we entered in Class 1: Mild Extra Virgin Olive Oil with 3 batches.

Our results were:

For batches as listed on your bottles:

T1, T2 and T32:

Gold Medal, Best in Class 1,

Trophy for the Best Olive Oil from all classes from Hunter Valley Fruit.

T50 and T60: Silver Medal.           

T40: Bronze Medal.

A fantastic set of results.

All is now sold!

The Hunter Valley outlook for this year for olives is poor.

The trees are not cropping well.

There has also been a lack of sunny weather and an abundance of rain for most of summer.

Olive trees do not like being waterlogged.

For Shalumar, we are flood free, although the local roads are falling apart! The cows are getting used to sodden pasture. The geese think everything is wonderful.

The Shalumar crop in 2021 was 3.5 tonnes off 400 trees, a mix principally of Frantoio and Coratina varieties

This year it is probably 400kgs: almost totally Frantoio.

We expect to harvest in early May, and with the small quantity will process it ourselves on a friend’s baby olive mill. The same mill that processed last year’s Gold medal oil.

Our trees look quite happy, with lots of leaf growth. This bodes well for 2023 year, olive trees fruit on this year’s leaf growth.

Alan and Jocelyn Smith

Shalumar

August 2021 Update

For three years no meaningful crop from our olive grove. With the drought the trees sensibly kept a low profile.

Whilst we have irrigation it is from surface water on the farm, and is not enough to fully sustain thirsty olive trees. To crop well they need a lot of water as well as fertilizer.

At the start of what became the drought we watered as normal, filling in dry gaps between expected rain events, as late 2017 unfolded our dams got lower and lower!

There came a point where we had to stop irrigating the grove to conserve water for the cattle. So the olive trees were on their own.

By the end of the drought we were at around 20% dam capacity. Fortunately for us the previous owner built deep dams: ideal to minimise evaporation.

So the 400 odd tress produced around 100kgs for 2017 2018, nothing for 2018 2019, and nothing for 2019 2020.

In February 2020 the heavens opened up with a mini east coast low: in 5 hours the two dams were full and overflowing. All too late to make a difference to the 2019 2020 crop.

Winter of 2020 continued to be moist, ideal conditions for olives, flowering in October was average, with fruit set in late October into November looking good. Fortunately no strong winds or heavy rain occurred in this key period. We fertilized as normal and found that the crop was very late maturing. This is probably due to the cooler, more overcast summer we had. All the Hunter Valley reported late ripening olive crops.

Finally we harvested in late April and mid-May: taking off a total of 3.6 tonnes from around 400 trees. Not a brilliant yield, but certainly a decent yield.

We do all our own harvesting and this year had a young generation team and an old generation team: both managed around 1 tonne per day: a wonderful effort.

This year, for the first time we processed half our crop on a friends’ olive mill. Their machine processes at around 50kgs per hour, so to do 1 tonne was a labour of love. The other half was done on the big mill at Lovedale which processes at 2 tonnes per hour. Of some satisfaction is that our own processing on the small machine gave better yields than the big machine! There is some art in running an olive mill.

The oil is mild this year, which seems to be typical of most Hunter Valley output for this year. It is very pleasant, well rounded.

With the crop harvested we turned our minds to pruning. Three principles are behind our pruning. First is prune the trees to suit the harvest method. Second in a good year prune hard, in a poor year prune gently. Third olive trees yield best from wood that is 9 to 12 years old.

Around 40% of our trees are 27 years old, and often so tall our harvest rakes cannot reach all olives. On the other hand our replantings are now old enough to be yielding well, and in fact this year produced around 75% to 80% of our crop.

So the replantings got a good standard vase shape prune. For the old trees we had started one round of major limb pruning just as the drought started. So post drought we have gone in hard. For these trees the next crop may be small but hopefully the year after will see solid cropping.

As of August 2021 it is getting dry again, the long range forecast is reasonably positive for the East Coast, so we keep our fingers crossed.