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It's Not Always About Climate Change: The Development of the Texas Olive OIl Industry

Authors: John V. Cotter*, St. Edward's University
Topics: Agricultural Geography
Keywords: olive oil, Texas agriculture, agricultural innovation, climate change
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 1:45 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Virtual Track 3
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Olive orchards are a new and fast growing feature of the Texas landscape. During the Spanish colonial period and that of Anglo colonization that followed, olive trees were rare but not unheard of. The amount of olive oil produced in Texas was negligible until the 1990s. Today there are more olive trees growing in Texas than peach trees. Among fruit and nut orchards in the state, olive trees are only outnumbered by pecan trees. While the Texas climate has some similarities to that of the Mediterranean, there are some significant differences. Weather events and climate change are under intense scrutiny by olive growers as well as agricultural researchers. But is climate change the driving force behind the rapid and successful expansion of the olive oil industry in Texas? A closer look suggests that innovations in orchard management and harvesting technology play a bigger role than one would expect given Texas weather and climate change. Traditional orchards and harvesting techniques have been supplanted by new alternatives.

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