A practical guide to care and harvesting/processing plan for your olive trees

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The basic needs

TO ensure the maximum yields each year, subject  to weather conditions, you will need to prune, feed and take precautions against potential pest attacks.

We suggest that you use ecological methods and products in order to end up with high quality ecological olive oil.


There are four important types of pruning:

•             Remedial pruning of neglected olive trees

When we took over a long abandoned olive grove we needed to do 80 to 90 per cent pruning in the first year.

•             Regular winter pruning

In the eight weeks after harvesting it is normal to cut out vertical growth which cannot be trained to grow horizontally or weeping, plus weak, deceased and dead growth. This will help channel sap to last year’s growth and stimulate new side shoots on which flowers and fruit will form.

•             Regular spring pruning

Once the new flower buds can be seen a thinning of crowned branches and non flowering growth is made to stimulate larger olives. Depending on the health of the tree this can be a five to 20 per cent pruning.

•             Removal of suckers

Suckers often sprout up from the lower trunk and shallow roots surrounding the tree base. These need to be removed to ensure all sap flows to productive branches.

The main cutting off is in the winter but they are best trimmed off throughout the year when they first appear. Having cut these off some producers, cover the base of the tree to stimulate any further shoots to develop as new roots.


Two types of feeding are beneficial. Firstly a late winter root feed using well rotted animal manures, powdered dried manures or proprietary ecological manures. Secondly ecological foliar feeds in spring, summer and autumn.


We suggest you do not water your olive trees except for recently planted young trees and during freak long dry spells. Olive trees are one of the most drought resistant trees.


There are number of pests that can affect yields and the quality of fruit.

Ecological products are available for each and the most convenient can be mixed together to reduce the number of sprayings required.

The most common are as follows.

The olive moth – feeds on flowers, eats kernels and bore into leaves – spray in spring.

The olive fly – infests olives during spring, summer and mostly in autumn – spray three times for greatest effect.

Sooty moulds and scales on leaves and twigs – Spray with a fungicide in winter and early spring.

Olive knot – small tumours on branches and twigs caused by bacteria entering wounds caused by beating olives off the trees, using hand rakes, poor pruning and hail and frosts – prune out badly damaged growth and stop using canes to knock off olives.

Spray with a fungicide if a big problem.


© Dick Handscombe www.gardenspain.com   January 2015

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