Mont Rouge Olive Estate is situated in Vanwyksdorp, a small Karoo town with about 700 residents, about 44 km from Ladismith in the Western Cape. No tar road lead to this town, nor to the main town in Kannaland. The town got its name from a time where more than 200 Van Wyks lived in the district. Today Pieter Coetzee is also a well-known name here.

It all started when Pieter decided about decade ago, to take over a lucerne and ostrich farm about 10km outside Vanwyksdorp. With the ostrich industry under pressure, Pieter began to pay more attention to lucerne, and began to establish olive trees in the outskirts of the irrigation circles. This way, Pieter was able to fully utilise the underutilised area and at the same time created jobs for the town’s residents, as this town was known for their high unemployment rate.

Over the next few years, it was found that the farm’s Mediterranean climate is ideal for olive farming. During 2008, it was decided to farm this crop commercially.

And there’s been no looking back. Today Mont Rouge is world famous for their hand-picked olives. Testament to this fact was when 7 cultivars gained gold in the World’s Best Olive Oil Competition, held in New York. Pieter is of the opinion that this would not have been possible without Stanley van Tonder’s input and careful management. Stanley is his right hand man and manager for the past fifteen years.

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Stanley also developed a unique olive platform that makes the harvesting process more effective by up to 20%. The pickers stand on a 2m platform, moving forward at about 600m per hour. This allows pickers to comfortably reach branches as high as 4 metres. This means that the trees can grow higher and bear more fruit. The picked olives are placed in a net at the bottom of the platform, which can later be emptied. Another advantage is that the use of ladders are eliminated which makes it safer to harvest, something that wasn’t always possible. Stanley believes this picking platform can also work well in the citrus industry. (Please follow our Facebook page for videos of this platform).

The right fertilisers, foliar feeds and the application time of these, also play an extremely important role in the cultivation of world-class fresh olives and olive oil. It all starts with taking representative soil samples of each block of olives.

Leaf samples are also taken annually, to determine if the contribution of soil and healthy soil practices where sufficient to accomplish the desired crop. This is a way to measure and adjust practices using the past accumulated information for the next production season. Atlantic Fertilisers’ water-soluble fertiliser products are administered via the irrigation system, soil cover in the form of plant offcuts are used for the storage of moisture and to create a pleasant environment for the growth of fine hair roots. This also provides nutrients for the feeding of micro-organisms.

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The farm borders on the well-known 4-star Rooiberg resort which spans over 14 000 hectares of fynbos and Karoo vegetation. It’s located in the Assegaay Nature Reserve and is popular for groups and romantic getaways. Please visit the website for more information: www.rooiberglodge.co.za

One thing is certain, Pieter Coetzee has a passion for his community, and he is committed to work towards success.

Pieter wants to encourage other farmers to use Atlantic Fertilisers’ fertiliser programmes and soil sampling services. It’s important to know what your arable land needs and to follow the recommendations to ensure success.

Atlantic Fertilisers is very proud to be part of this success story.

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