Knowing the best time to harvest olives is probably the most important step in olive oil production, especially if you’re making extra virgin olive oil. There are many methods to determine the ripeness of olives, but one method stands out a lot – Olive Maturity Index. In today’s article, I’ll show you the olive maturity index and why you should use it when deciding if it is a good time to gather olives from the trees.
Olive Maturity Index is a widely accepted method of determining the average ripeness degree of olives. It’s also called Jaen Index since it was invented in Jaen, Spain. It ranges in values from 0 to 7 (or A to H), where 0 (A) represents completely green fruits, and 7 (H) represents fully ripe olives.
There are many other ways to check the average ripeness of olive fruits, but this is the best one, in my opinion. It’s a proven technique, and it has worked for years. Also, subjective analyses are excluded by using this method.
Let’s dive deeper into this topic so that I can give you a detailed answer.
What Is Olive Maturity Index
Olive Maturity Index was invented in Jaen, Spain, in 2011. Many olive growers use it to determine the best time for harvesting olives in order to get the highest-quality olive oil. Its purpose is to show when olive fruits are full of quality oils that’ll yield larger amounts of oil per 1kg of fruit.
At first, it was done by cameras and computer programs, but the best thing is that anyone can calculate it by themselves (I’ll show you a way just in a minute).
Olive Maturity Index has classification groups of olive fruits based on skin and flesh color. There are 8 groups, usually classified from 0 to 7, or A to H. Below is a table that explains each group.
|A||deep green color and hard fruit|
|B||yellow to green color, the fruit is a bit softer|
|C||less than half of the fruit skin is turning purple or black|
|D||more than half of the fruit skin is turning purple or black|
|E||the whole olive skin is purple or black, but with white or green flesh (cut the olive to check)|
|F||the entire olive skin is all purple or black, but with less than half of the olive flesh turning purple|
|G||the whole of olive skin is all purple or black, but with more than half of the olive flesh turning purple|
|H||olive skin is entirely purple or black, and the flesh is purple to the pit|
The method works by randomly picking 100 olives from various trees and dividing them into 8 categories (according to fruit skin and flesh color). When the olives have been divided into categories, you should count the olives in each category, and then use the formula below.
Olive Maturity Index Formula: (A*0+B*1+C*2+D*3+E*4+F*5+G*6+H*7)/100
Why It’s Important
Knowing the maturity index of olives is extremely important for olive growers who want to produce high-quality olive oil. Harvesting olives only a few days too soon or a few days too late can play a significant role in olive oil quality.
I think that the maturity index is so important because it’s so much better than other methods of determining the average olive fruit ripeness. Many people still use different methods, but these methods don’t show any mathematical number you can rely on.
The olive maturity index is mathematical that excludes human error, and that’s the biggest reason why more and more olive growers are using it before going to harvest olives.
How To Calculate OMI
To calculate OMI (Olive maturity index), go to your olive farm and randomly pick 100 olives. Don’t pick all 100 olives from one tree; make sure to pick them from various trees. Now that you have 100 randomly picked olives, you should divide them into eight categories I showed you above. Just make sure to check the description of each category and divide olives according to that.
Now that all the olives are separated into categories, it’s time to do the math. Count the number of olives in each category, you’ll write numbers of olives in each category instead of letter of that category. Let’s repeat the formula for maturity index: (A*0+B*1+C*2+D*3+E*4+F*5+G*6+H*7)/100 = Maturity Index.
For instance, if you have 11 olives in category A, and 7 olives in category B, 14 olives in category C, you’ll write those numbers instead of letters. Example: (11*0+7*1+14*2…., and so on). I wrote the full example in this article.
When you calculate that, the number you get is the maturity index, which shows the average ripeness of olives on your olive farm.
I know many people don’t like to calculate, especially such long formulas, so I decided to make an online calculator that you can use to calculate the olive maturity index. It’s straightforward to use, and I wrote you instructions too, so you can’t make any mistakes. Click the link below to access the calculator.
What Is Good Olive Maturity Index
Many experts agree that a good olive maturity index result is anywhere between 2.5 and 4.5. In reality, those are a bit stretched numbers, especially the 4.5 one.
Studies have shown that the 3.5 maturity index is ideal for earlier olive varieties, while for the late varieties, it’s between 2.5 and 3.0. Also, the best maturity index can also vary depending on the exact olive type, whether it’s a late or early one.
Personally, I like to pick my olives whenever the olive maturity index is around 3.0. That way, I know I’ll get satisfactory amounts of olive oil from one pound of olives, and I also know that the oil will be of high quality.
I hope that by now, you know how crucial the olive maturity index is and why you should use it to calculate the average fruit ripeness in your olive farm. I tried to give you a thorough explanation while staying easily understandable so that anyone can read and fully understand it.
Actually, there’s nothing that could confuse you, especially if you’ll be using an online calculator I made. It’s so simple, and it takes only a minute to calculate the maturity index (of course, if you have olives divided into needed categories).
As I always say, new stuff is invented all the time, and it’s up to us whether we will use it. Maturity index is a fantastic thing, and every olive grower should know how to use it, and in the end, use it to determine the right time of picking olives.
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