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Argentina is the eleventh largest producer of olive oil in the world, ranking first in the Americas. National production represents almost 5% of the world total.
Olive groves cover 110,000 hectares spread throughout the country, 50% of which are used for olive oil production.
Argentina produces an average of 300,000 tonnes of olives each year, of which 230,000 tonnes are used to make 29,000 tonnes of olive oil, 75% to 80% is exported, mostly in bulk.
The olive tree is grown in the country between 25° and 40° south latitude. The olive tree is considered an undemanding crop in terms of soil for its development. It grows well on both calcareous and siliceous soils, but requires deep, well-drained soils. The crop grows in warm temperate climates, with winters close to zero degrees. Dry climates favour it because of the lower incidence of cryptogamic diseases.
Harvest time starts towards the end of January in the province of Cordoba and lasts until the middle of May. In the south of the province of Buenos Aires, harvesting lasts until the end of June.
The main producing provinces are, in order of planted area, Catamarca, La Rioja, Mendoza, San Juan, Cordoba and Buenos Aires.
Catamarca: Olive production in this province is very recent; the age of the plantations averages 10 years and the production model is first and industrial with the most modern technology. The province is the main producer of olive oil in the country with an area of 20% of the country's plantations.
Production is located in the regions of the Central Valley (Capayán and Valle Viejo), the Bolsón de Pipanaco (Pomán) and the high altitude areas (Tinogasta). About 80% of the cultivated varieties are oil varieties, including Arbequina, Frantoio, Barnea and Coratina. The remaining 20% are dual-purpose varieties, such as Manzanilla and Empeltre.
La Rioja: Olive growing is developed mainly in the Department of Arauco, the place of origin of the homonymous varietal with the greatest diffusion in the country. La Rioja concentrates most of the area (33.4%) planted with olive groves in the country. La Rioja has positioned itself as the main producing province, displacing Mendoza.
This surface area has grown considerably in the last ten years. 50% of the production originates in the department of Arauco, and the rest is concentrated in the outskirts of the provincial capital and in the valleys of Chilecito and Famatina.
Twenty-eight percent of the harvest is used in the production of olive oil. The main variety throughout the province is Arauco, with 70% of the planted area. The remaining 30% are varieties such as Arbequina, Manzanilla, Frantoio, Empeltre, Picual, Barnea and Farga.
Mendoza: The olive tree is one of the most important crops in the province. Its important industrial link produces preserves and olive oils of renowned quality. The main production areas are located in the departments of Maipú, Rivadavia, Junín, San Rafael, San Martín, Lavalle and Guaymallén. Mendoza accounts for 20.5% of the country's olive-growing area.
The production areas are characterised by a semi-arid climate with low rainfall, and the water needs of the crops must be supplemented with various artificial irrigation systems as in the other provinces of western Argentina.
Forty-one percent of the crop is used for the production of olive oils, mainly Arbequina, Arauco, Farga, Empeltre and Frantoio.
San Juan: Olive growing in the province is an economic activity of outstanding importance and tradition. Sixty percent of the plantations correspond to crops less than 10 years old related to new deferred ventures, and the rest corresponds to traditional olive groves more than 25 years old. San Juan accounts for 17% of the country's olive-growing area.
It has 60% of oil varieties such as Arbequina, Picual, Hojiblanca, Frantoio, Barnea and Empeltre, 22% of table olives of the Changlot Real variety and 19% of dual-purpose varieties such as Arauco and Manzanilla.
Córdoba: In the province, the cultivated area reaches 6,000 hectares. In general, these plantations are more than 25 years old and mostly produce canned and organic olive oil, as 60% of this value chain in the province is under organic certification.
The main varieties planted are divided between 70% for olive oil production (Arbequina and Frantoio) and 30% for the production of preserves (Manzanilla, Arauco, Nevadillo, Farga, Empeltre and Ascolano).
Buenos Aires: The olive-growing area is located in the southeast of the province, where the planted area exceeds 3,000 hectares, with olive trees more than 40 years old in the district of Coronel Dorrego, where certified organic olive oil is produced. Eighty percent of this oil is exported. The Arbequina variety is the most abundant, but there are also Frantoio, Nevadillo, Picual and Changlot.