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New olive orchard weathers the winter

A couple of months ago, you wrote about Jeff Hoyal raising olives. We had a pretty hard winter, do you know how the plants came through it?

— Eric M., Yakima

Well, Eric, despite all the shivering nights during the winter of 2008-09, Jeff Hoyal's 124 acres of olive plantings east of Jacksonville fared well.

"They're doing fine and we're moving along well," Hoyal reported. "The worry people have here that olives won't grow or will have problems is unfounded."

The cloned olive varieties, which will be used for oil, were planted in August. A partial harvest is anticipated in 2011, with the first full harvest expected in 2012.

"We planted in late August, so they were much more susceptible," Hoyal said. "If we had planted in April or May it would have been better. We had to replace a few plants in the low-lying areas that flood out or tend to freeze, but with new plantings you always get a one-percent loss and we haven't even hit one percent yet."

The plants have grown 3 to 4 inches, but will extend about 3 feet during the April to October growing season.

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