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Manzanillo is one of Spain's finest varieties. It is also the  most widely planted variety in Australian groves and, due to its productivity  and high quality fruit, the most widespread variety in the world. The variety  has been well proven in groves and research stations in many Australian  states.

The flesh-to-pit ratio is superb (8.2:1), its flesh is an  excellent texture and it is considered a 'free-stone' olive as the seed is very  easy to remove from the flesh. This attribute makes it highly sought after by the processors of pitted and stuffed olives. The fruit are apple-shaped, light  green-coloured and spotted with tiny whitish dots. They mature to a black colour  with a hint of purple and are a medium size at 4.8g.

The tree has a low, spreading habit and while it is similar to many olives in that it can grow up to ten metres tall, most Manzanillo trees  stay at around five metres for ease of management and harvesting.

With normal cultural care Manzanillo is a regular annual bearer  with the fruit maturing early in the season. It has cropped well even in warm winter areas with little or no frost. The Department of Agriculture - Mildura  Trials found Manzanillo to be the heaviest cropper of the 14 varieties  tested.

Manzanillo table fruit and oil are well accepted on both the Australian and International markets. It is considered by many to be the best dual purpose variety available.

"The Mission cultivar was the most important olive in  California in 1936, accounting for 52 per cent of the acreage. By 1992, Mission  trees constituted just 9 per cent of the bearing acreage. Manzanillo has steadily become more important over the past five decades and now accounts for  more than 58% of the bearing acreage [and almost 83% of the non-bearing (newly  planted young trees) acreage in 1992]." (Olive  Production Manual, University of California 1994. p. 7)

"According to data of the California Livestock and Crop  Reporting Service, Manzanillo is consistently the highest yielding of the four  leading commercial varieties, averaging about 75% higher than Mission. The oil  content is sufficiently high to justify use of the crop for oil extraction." (Professor H.T. Hartmann,  California.)

"During the 1980s, on average, two thirds (66.01%) of yearly production was from the Manzanillo cultivar." (Olive  Production Manual, University of California 1994. p.8)

While Manzanillo is considered to be one of the world's  outstanding table olives, it also produces a high quality oil and has a  laboratory tested oil content of 20.3%..

Source Comments

"The oil from this variety has the rich green color and  abundant flavor characterising the fall harvest varieties, combined with a slight tartness that adds zest to any food....This oil is known for its  distinguished olive character and fruitiness....Perhaps more than any other of our varieties, Manzanillo Organic gives you all the olive flavour without the  olive." (Sciabica's California Grown Olive Oils Catalogue, 1995)

"Approximate range in oil content on a fresh-weight basis of selected olive cultivars. Fruit picked, black-ripe throughout winter months.  Manzanillo 15-26% oil." [Average = 20.5%] (Olive Production Manual, University of California, 1994. p.144)

"Manzanillo oil content (percent of fruit) = 20.3% Manzanillo's  main uses are black-ripe pickling, green-ripe pickling, Spanish green pickling and oil" (Olive Production Manual, University of California, 1994. p.23)

"Manzanillo fruit ... is generally used for pickling due to the  texture of the flesh, but it can also be used for the extraction of oil as it  contains a quantity of fine grade oil." (Dr Bertini,  Olive Growing & Processing, 1960)

"The oil content is about 20% of the fruit weight, which is  sufficiently high for the small and damaged fruits to be used for oil  extraction." (Table Olives - Production and Processing, A. Garrido Fernandez et al).

"Manzanillo is one of the varieties enjoying the most  international fame for the excellence of its flesh and its extraordinary  organoleptic characteristics." (Table Olive Processing,  International Olive Oil Council, 1990.)

Organoleptic Assessment

Manzanillo oils received much acclaim at a Californian Organoleptic Oil Assessment (oil tasting) organised in late 1998 by International Olive Oil Council Panel Heads, Paul Vossen and Roberto Zecca.

Of the 23 oils in the tasting, five were from irrigated  Manzanillo groves. Other varietal oils entered were sourced from the varieties  Frantoio, Farga, Mission, Lucca and Sevillano plus varietal blends.

The oil judged most highly was processed from irrigated  Manzanillo fruit. Second place was taken by a Manzanillo/Mission blended oil and third by another irrigated Manzanillo oil.

All five of the Manzanillo oils entered were judged 'Extra Virgin' and ranked in the top ten of the 23 positions. The same oils were sent to Spain for judging on a similarly accredited panel where they fared very well  again.

A number of highly ranked Manzanillo oils have been produced in  Australia from locations as diverse as Moree, Hobart and Adelaide.


Manzanillo is regarded as sensitive to Peacock Spot (Cycloconium oleaginum). (See OLIFAX 12 for further details and preventative measures) and Olive Knot (not in  Australia) and very sensitive to Verticillium Wilt (not common in Australia).

Seasonal Note

Due to very heavy rains in areas of New South Wales in the 1998-99 olive season, many varieties recorded lower than normal oil percentages. In those regions affected, Manzanillo crops also absorbed high quantities of  water. While this seasonal oddity increases their value as a table olive, on a  solely fresh weight percentage, it reduced the oil percentage in the fruit. This meant additional processing time was needed to extract the oil quantity. As noted earlier, many varieties were effected during the unusual season. However,  it does highlight a need for Manzanillo growers to manage their irrigation schedules prior to harvesting to ensure that oil extraction is  efficient.

DNA Identification

The Manzanillo olives grown as mother trees at Olives Australia  have been randomly DNA tested at the World Germplasm Bank of Olive Cultivars in  Cordoba, Spain. They genetically matched the original Manzanilla de Sevilla. Further DNA testing in Australia against other Manzanillo's from around the  world has again confirmed their genetic accuracy.