Hello from Domaine de Querubi. We have noted that quite a few of our customers are interested in the development of our farm, and so we decided to compile a quarterly update, this being our first one. We hope you will find it informative!
First Quarter – Our Weather
Much of what we do here is weather dependant. We had hoped for a good, cold winter, with at least a week of sub zero temperatures to kill potential pests, but no such luck. With only 4 intermittent days below zero, we will no doubt have a busy summer defending our olives against the infamous fruit fly!! We are of course thankful of the warm weather, as temperatures below -15 degrees Celsius would be catastrophic for our trees, causing them all to die. This happened in the Pyrenees Orientales in 1965, and we would definitely rather be fighting fruit flies!
February and March gave us frequent strong winds from the famous Tramontana which blows for days on end at an average speed of 60–100 km per hr. Thanks to over 75mm of rain which is quite exceptional here, we can feel more relaxed about the availability of water from our subterranean wells this summer.
The warm weather towards the end of March, together with our chemical free, virgin soil, has rewarded us with fields of yellow buttercup flowers, a truly magnificent and wonderful sight which is also very rare!!! With temperatures now above 18 degrees Celsius, spring is in the air, even though all the almond trees blossomed 3 weeks later than usual. The olive trees however, have started to develop buds and seem to be in phase with their normal cycle. We await the florisation in May with some impatience.
Our Last Three Months
Farms are always busy, and we are no exception. We have been busy adding a new layer of woodchips around all 6,000 trees to avoid the weeds growing (around 350 m3 of woodchips in total). We replaced 350 dead or dying trees (we do not treat pests, but replace affected trees) and we gave all 17 fields a nice layer of compost and organic fertilizer. We also had a good pruning session with our older trees, and replaced over 400 support poles, which broke during the strong winds. We are by now, all set for our spring program, which involves irrigation set-up, wood chip maintenance, and copious amounts of grass cutting, more about this in the next quarter update, due in July.
Querubi Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Now Available to Buy in The UK.
We began to visit specially selected potential distributors in the UK in January. We are very happy with the response we received and now supply our oil to 5 top retailers in the UK: Bayley & Sage in London (the first to stock us), Gog Maggog Farm Shop in Cambridge, Italo Delicatessen in London, Cowdray Farm Shop in West Sussex, and the Rhug Estate in North Wales.
We are currently in contact with a number of additional retailers to stock our oil, and we will keep you updated on our progress.
Worrying Times Ahead for Olive Growers
Many olive growers were badly affected in 2014 by the fruit fly, reducing harvest volumes by 35-50%, and the latest news regarding the outbreak of the Xylella Fastidiosa bacterium (which has been blamed for the destruction of over 74,000 acres of olive groves in the Salento region of Apulia (Puglia), Southern Italy) does not make things any better. We now know how to defend our olives against the fruit fly, but we have no idea what to do against this new pest. We know that the bacterium was discovered in plants in France, but fortunately that discovery had been very early on. We are of course, concerned by this new development, however, we hope that the geographically location of our farm which is very isolated will help us fight the battle. We will keep you updated!