Is Olive Picking Hard Work? An Honest Answer

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  • Post category:Harvesting
  • Post last modified:January 9, 2022

People often ask me the same question over and over again: “is olive picking hard work?”. 

As a guy that worked dozens of easy and challenging jobs, I think that I’m a competent person to talk about this topic and show you whether picking olives is considered hard work or not. 

Olive picking isn’t extremely hard work. Yet, it requires you to be somehow skilled, concentrated, and thorough in gathering them. It also depends on the terrain, shape of olive trees, and tools used for harvesting. 

As you can see, it may depend on various things, and I’ll try to explain all of them to you. It’s not all fun and games, but there are positive sides too. If you never picked olives but plan to do, this article is for you. 

Make sure to read the whole article and prepare yourself for picking olives. 

The Difficulty of Picking Olives Depends on Several Things

Several things can affect the difficulty of olive picking jobs. To give you the best possible answer, I’ll try to describe all of them. 

Your Physical Condition

The main factor is your physical condition. It’s not so much about the strength. It’s about your ability to climb ladders on uneven terrain and keep working for a few hours without a break. 

Picking olives requires you to work without significant pauses, and there’s usually only one longer break – for breakfast. Other than that, people mostly don’t stop until the workday is over. 

Of course, you can always take a short break to drink water or smoke a cigarette, but you generally work without too many pauses. 

Terrain and Climate

Another thing that can affect the difficulty of harvesting olives is terrain and climate. Even though olive trees mostly grow in warmer climates with plenty of sunny days, it can still get cold in the early mornings of harvesting periods. 

Most smaller olive growers don’t have plenty of lands to grow olive trees, and they have to plant them wherever the soil is fertile and suitable for olive growth. It’s not uncommon for olives to be planted on slopes and uneven terrains.

Cold mornings and uneven terrains will undoubtedly contribute to the difficulty of olive harvesting. So, if you’re used to working in an office, make sure to dress appropriately when harvesting olives, and take some boots, too, if the terrain is sloppy. 

The Shape of Olive Trees

Not all olive trees grow the same, and not all olive farmers grow them in the exact same way. Some people like to have smaller olive trees, while others prefer large and tall olive trees with dense canopies. 

Smaller olive trees are easier to harvest, and it shouldn’t be a problem for anyone to work that job.

On the other hand, large olive trees with dense canopies require you to be agile to harvest them, especially if you’ll have to use ladders to reach distant fruits. 


If you work for someone, they could contribute to the difficulty of picking olives too. Even though most olive growers like to pick olives in a relaxed atmosphere without rushing, that might not always be the case.

A few times, I worked for olive growers that didn’t let us smoke the cigarette for the whole day (I know it’s not healthy, but I’m a smoker). In my opinion, there’s no point in banning such things, workers get stressed, and they’ll be less effective at gathering olives.  

Of course, if you’re working on your olive farm, you’ll dictate your work speed by yourself. 

It Was Much Harder In The Past

Picking olives was much harder in the past, and people didn’t have so many tools to make olive harvesting easier. Luckily, the situation is entirely different today. 

Fifty years ago, people would do almost everything by using bare hands. Of course, they had some combs and nets, but the majority of work was done manually, especially when we’re talking about carrying olives through the farm using wheelbarrows, etc. 

Even today, some people pick olives by hand, which is extremely slow and can be exhausting. 

It wasn’t so affordable to buy a tractor, a trailer, or a milling machine in the past. To make it clear, they’re not cheap today either but are more accessible to a wide range of people, especially farmers. 

New Tools and Machines Make It Easier

With the advanced technology, tools, and machines we have today, picking olives is much easier. There are gas-powered olive harvesters, electric olive harvesters, telescopic wands, giant tree shakers, net catchers (traps), etc. 

All of those tools and products improve the speed of picking olives and ease the whole harvesting process. 

In my opinion, one of the best inventions for olive growers are electric olive harvesters (read more about them here). You don’t have to be strong to use them, and it’s straightforward, so even kids can harvest olive trees by using them.  

Also, many olive growers nowadays have tractors or smaller milling machines, so they can install trailers and carry containers full of olives through the farm. You would have to do most of it by walking in the past.


I know that not all olive growers will agree with me on this topic. Still, I shared my opinions based on my experience in various jobs (grape harvesting, pruning grape trees, masonry, drilling, caterings, etc.) Most of these jobs are much more challenging than picking olives, and I based my answer on that. 

Of course, if someone says that picking olives is an effortless job, he lies. However, anyone can do it, in my opinion. You’ll surely get tired after the workday is over, but I don’t see a reason why one couldn’t withstand (physically) a few days of picking olives. 

When you harvest olive trees in one of the proven methods, it’s much easier then. Check my article How To Pick Olives Fast? 4 Easy Steps, and learn the quick and easy way to pick olives, without exhausting yourself and your workers.

I want to hear your thoughts on this topic, so I made a survey form. Make sure to fill it out to see what most people think.