South Texas residents are used to hearing about crops like oranges, grapefruit, pecans and spinach.But not many people around here are used to hearing about olives growing in this south Texas heat.But a few ranchers just north of Laredo say this is the perfect area to grow olives for extra virgin olive oil.Our Annette Garcia was out in Artesia Wells today to speak to Jerry Farrell who has an olive orchard in his back yard.Just off a busy highway, a little south of Cotulla, lies the serene Farrell ranch in Artesia Wells.In the back yard, an orchard of olive trees.
“Through experimenting he seemed to discover the further south you go the better this seemed to be the center bulls eye the target area.” It may not seem typical for the area but it turns out South Texas soil is great for olive trees and olive ranches are sprouting across the area. Jerry Farrell is a partner of the Texas olive ranch group.
“We’re the first one to commercialize olives in Texas we only make extra virgin olive oil we do not can any we grow nothing but olives you can make oil from.” This orchard in Artesia Wells has about 2,500 trees, give or take a few. But imagine 40,000. That’s how many are in an orchard over in Asherton. “2010 was the first year we got a good crop out of here. For what reason, we don’t know we got 14 tons out of this small orchard.” 400 tons were harvested in Asherton, near Carrizo Springs. “I had one tree in 2010 that one branch had over 230 olives on it just one branch like this.” “Here it is January and there’s still olives on the tree.”
The ranches and their growing popularity in Texas have even inspired the film 'El Camino Olive Trail', telling the story of land on the Texas Mexico border, where liquid gold that has illuminated history is planted, picked and pressed. “That’s the actual oil. The pumice goes away we keep the oil.” Farrell's 14-acre orchard isn't too profitable just yet. He says it still has more growing to do. But for him, it’s more about the love of being out in the calm space filled with trees. “I got ready to retire and I asked my wife where she wanted to live. She says we're going to the ranch. Makes me happy.” “I never thought id be in the olive business but here I am and glad to be here.” Jerry Farrell says the Texas Olive Ranch Group is trying to grow the industry.
He says people are beginning to realize that olive trees can grow in this part of the country and actually produce and that’s what its all about.