29 May 2018

Olive tree (II). Growth pruning

In the previous article we talked about thinning pruning that applies to olive trees in production. On this occasion, we will mention some of the most important features of growth pruning. The growth pruning, as its name indicates, is carried out to shape the olive tree. This type of pruning begins from the first year, which will end when the tree is perfectly formed and ready to produce the maximum kilos of olives in successive years.

This pruning can be more or less aggressive, depending on the growth of the tree. If the olive tree is growing strongly, you can do a more aggressive pruning, but if the olive tree is growing slowly (usually in dry fields) the best is to do a light pruning or even waiting a little longer for the trunk to be thicker. As with thinning pruning, the ideal time to prune is at a time when it is not too cold, as the tree is left unprotected after pruning.

In this type of pruning there are two techniques, the first one with an olive tree tip and the second one without any tip. We have practiced the second technique, as we need the olive tree to continue growing without excessive branching. The main objective of this pruning is to eliminate the branches that are in the lower part of the trunk. With this technique, the tree will grow in its upper part. At the same time, we are forming the trunk that will be very important to be able to apply a mechanized harvesting (with shaker machine) in the future.

The objective of removing branches from the upper part is to form the cross (first branches) at a height of about one meter, so we will have to leave the trunk clean until the first branches we see are similar in thickness that will indicate the branches in the future. The cuts are recommended to be done at a distance of 1 cm from the trunk, so that the scars are not so direct on the trunk.

The pruning task is a very controversial issue, since according to the farmer, the area, the type and variety of tree must be applied in one way or another. Thus, what we have said here is what we have said and what we consider most appropriate for our explotation. We sure many farmers have made another technique that we'd like to know.... we look forward to your comments.

Versión en español.

10 May 2018

Olive Tree (I). Thinning pruning

In the following two posts we will deal with pruning tasks in olive trees related to: thinning pruning and formation pruning. On this occasion, we will talk about the thinning pruning (also called production pruning) that we have carried out on the olive trees that are in full production. These tasks are recommended when the vegetative activity of the tree is insignificant, which occurs between January and April. The aim of pruning is to help prevent premature aging of the tree, we help to renew the branches by removing old branches and creating a balanced growth. We perform pruning tasks of the olive trees every two years and we make that it coincide with the year they have most harvest (remember that they are trees that normally have good production every two years). In this way we help to make the year that generates less yield less aggressive for the tree.

Thinning pruning consists of selecting the branches to be removed so that air and light can enter through all parts of the olive tree. The olive tree, for its development and good production, needs a lot of sunlight, so when it has too many branches generates shade between them and this can be detrimental to its performance. Be careful if you remove too many branches as the light could damage the trunk by sunstroke. With this kind of pruning, we also take advantage of this to form the top of the tree and thus have the same shape, avoiding that the branches remain at great height and we may have problems in the harvest (we should highlight that we make a manual harvest).

Once pruning has been completed, all the waste generated must be collected. Years ago, the waste used to be eliminated with fire but in recent years the option of chopping the waste is dominating with the aim of reincorporating it back into the soil as organic matter.

After pruning, this is the ideal moment to cure the scars that have been generate with the cuts by means of phytosanitary treatments. Wounds are the main entry of bacteria into the tree... but we will talk about this in future articles.

Versión en español.