Pruning olive trees

Pruning olive trees


Pruning olive trees
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Pruning the olive tree is one of the fundamental tasks from the point of view of the quality of the oil.

To understand pruning, it is necessary to know that if the olive tree were not pruned, it would reach its maximum canopy. At that point it would not grow any more the following year. If there is no growth there would be no more harvest as the olives are harvested in the previous year's new branch shoots.

If at this point (when the olive tree has reached its maximum canopy) we prune around 20% of its plant mass, the tree will be able to grow again that spring and will bear fruit the following year. But if the felling is excessive, the tree may use all its strength to grow stems in order to regain its vegetal mass and it will produce neither flowers nor olives. Therefore, a good felling is one that keeps the olive tree always below its maximum canopy so that every year it has a balanced growth of branches and fruit. This is what is known as maintenance felling. In this maintenance felling it is essential to eliminate dry or damaged parts, to eliminate suckers (vertical branches which are not very productive and which take all the sap from the olive tree) and to carry out a felling to keep both the outside and the inside of the olive tree aired and sunny. A well aerated and sunny olive tree produces more and avoids fungus and diseases.

When an olive tree gets old, i.e. the branches of the olive tree get old as the trunk never 'gets old', a well-planned renewal felling is necessary, which is carried out over several years by cutting different branches in different years to allow time for the new, renewed branches to come into production. Thus, there are thousand-year-old olive trees that continue to produce because their branches are young and have been pruned correctly.

All the firewood that comes from pruning is sorted, using the fattest trunks for heating and fireplaces, and all the branches that are less than one arm thick are chipped and incorporated into the soil as organic matter.

In years when a larger harvest is expected, it is sometimes advisable to cut more. If a tree becomes overloaded with fruit, this can lead to a very pronounced alternate crop.