Central Texas Olive Ranch is currently the second largest olive ranch in the State of Texas. Our 23,000-tree, high density orchard consists of 17,000 Arbequina, 4,500 Koroneiki and 1,500 Arbosana trees. That blend of varieties was carefully selected to provide the best combination of flavors for our extra virgin olive oil.
The grove is located one mile east of historic Walburg, Texas on FM 972 on property that has been in the Mickan family since the late 1800s. Ranch owner, Curtis Mickan, was born and raised in Georgetown, Texas. He purchased a portion of the family ranch in the 1970s and subsequently raised cattle and farmed row crops for decades, while simultaneously pursing a career in the transportation industry in Dallas. In an effort to realize a greater return on his ranch investment, he began researching the idea of replacing those row crops with an olive orchard. Because the United States is the world’s third largest consumer of olive oil – most of which is imported – it soon became apparent to him that the additional value added to be realized from producing and selling olive oil outweighed the costs. He and grandson, Joshua Swafford, broke ground on the orchard in January, 2009. The trees were planted that spring and are thriving in the sandy, well-drained soil.
Joshua graduated from Texas A&M University in 2008 – just in time to hit the ground running and help make that olive orchard a reality. He earned a BS in Agricultural Leadership & Development and a minor in Agricultural Business. During his time at A&M he was employed by USDA and assisted in Forage Cytogenetics and Plant Breeding Research. After graduation he took charge of orchard operations where he specialized in planning, land development, land preparation and supervision of labor crews planting the trees.
Since that time Josh has provided consulting and advisory services for more that 240 acres and 115,000 trees in Central and South Texas. He is also serving as the field researcher for Texas Tech University’s olive research funded by a USDA Specialty Crop Grant. During the growing season, Josh travels among the participating groves in Central and South Texas to collect data that will help researchers determine the best tree varieties for various areas of Texas. This research has provided him invaluable knowledge in ageing inflorescence, flowers, and olive fruit. He coordinates the data collection for more than 13 different varieties of olive trees in Central and South Texas, in addition to participating in yield research for more than 300 acres and 145,000 trees.