Weekend vibes – Picking olives on Korcula island

It’s the time of the year when olive picking is in full swing. Everywhere you go, you’ll hear talk about how good this year’s yield was, how many kilos did they pick, what’s the quality of the fruit like, what is the processing price in oil mills – it’s all about the most revered fruit in Dalmatia, her majesty Olive.

Orgula olive sort

Olive picking is an important family and friends get-together activity. When you get invited to help it is a very deep show of respect where you’re basically welcomed into an inner circle of the family. I, unfortunately, have no olive grove of my own and have only been olive picking once before, so when I got invited to help in the olive grove of the Botica family in Račišće village together with their extended families, I had no second thoughts.

On the way to the first olive grove, at 9 AM

On the way to the third olive grove, early afternoon

What I learned about olives and olive oil on Korcula island

Korcula olive oil has been entered into the European Union register of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications. It means European Union protected and confirmed that olive oil from Korcula island has high qualities and cultural value, and is genuinely tied to Korcula island in the Dalmatian south.

Zdravko Drušković, a fellow olive picker, and a seasoned seafarer with over 50 years of voyages across the globe said how the world’s best olive oil comes from the northern tip of Lake Garda in Italy. However, he argues, being an olive oil connoisseur, that Korcula olive oil can compete with the world’s finest olive oil if the olives are picked at the right time with timely processing and correct storage.

Olive pickers pick olives and let them fall on what is called a parasol. When the entire tree has been picked, the olives are stored away for cleaning from leaves and branches to be transferred to the oil mill for processing

Further, we talked about different olive sorts on Korcula island and the rest of Croatia. Zdravko said, and everyone else agreed that the best olive oil comes from Orgula sort, which is considered to be an autochthon sort on Korcula island. Apparently, the climate on this part of the island favors this sort more than the western part of the island where other sorts such as Lastovka and Drobnica are more represented.

Lastovka or Talijanica olive sort, the debate was on

Vesna Botica, a vital senior and an olive groves owner, told us how during the 1990s war a lot of new olive trees were planted because all industry and tourism stopped so people went back to agriculture.

Vesna, trimming down the olive tree, necessary maintenance

What I found beautiful is the deep respect of owners towards nature and the symbiosis of the two. Wild boars come when no one is around and eat the fruit that falls on the ground while birds eat the fruit that remains on the tree long into the winter. No pesticides are ever used and no artificial fertilizers. Instead, the small branches that fall during the picking are left on the ground to rot, as compost. The bigger branches that need to be cut every now and then so the olive tree can ‘breathe’ are burned. The ashes are then scattered around olive trees serving as fertilizer.

The crew


Everyone was so concentrated on picking olives I didn’t want to interrupt and ask to take a photo of me. But, yes, I was part of the crew too!

Day in numbers

  • We started picking olives at 9,30 AM and finished at 6,30 PM.
  • 8 adults and 2 children picked 300 kilos of olives from 19 trees
  • The estimation is that from 100 kilos of olives you can get 17 to 20 liters of olive oil max
  • We finished picking olives at 6,30 PM, at 8 PM olives were already in an oil mill being processed. In the olive picking season, oil mills work 24/7
  • I will get 1 liter of olive oil for helping out as it’s the custom. And let me tell you, it will be the sweetest, most cherished olive oil I ever got!

Would you like to buy an olive grove on Korcula island?

Edita Drušković, a dear friend and fellow picker, is extremely passionate and emotional when it comes to the history and heritage of Racisce village where her ancestors date all the way back to the 17th century. I asked her if it is common for people from Racisce to sell their olive groves. She said, not really. If someone would do it, all the people from the village would shame them for doing so. She believes olive groves are not only family heirlooms but also national cultural and historical treasures that should not be on sale. And honestly, if one knows anything about the hardships, trials, and tribulations of old Dalmatians through centuries trying to survive on scarce Dalmatian land, Edita’s sentiment is easily understood.

Great-grandma, great-grandchildren, father and son and daughter
Father and daughter
Family lunch break

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