Olives 2009

07/11/2009 - 16:27

Not sure that I am in the right section but here you go...Olives - might be a little early but we are worried as there don't seem to be many olives on our trees this year. Last year we remember having lots but they are either hiding or are non-existent this year. we've looked a neighbours trees and they don't seem to have many either. Are we panicking too early or has anyone else noticed this? we are wondering if tihis is weather related - we seemed to have loads of blossoms. One of our neighbours(Italian) told us not to worry the tree was maschile but it had olives last year. We are a bit confused. They look healthy enough....ThanksJo



yes,you're right there are not many olives on the trees up here this year.the trees are not ill.during the period of the blossom if there tends to be a cold/wet spell as there was the blossom does not "legare" and form the tiny olive buds but just drops off the tree.

In reply to by sebastiano

some years are not so good. And this year is a not so good year I'm afraid, down here at least. Sebastiano is right about the weather. Here in Abruzzo, the weather went from a cold and very wet spring, to scorching weather in May when the olive trees flowered and then the worst thing - cold, wet and hail for 4 days. This pretty much destroyed 75% of the early forming fruit along with our apricots, plums and kiwi. Last year was a bumper year for olives in particular. We had 1,000kg from just 30 or so trees. This year, we'll be lucky to get 200kg. It's just the way it goes I'm afraid. If the trees look healthy and are producing new growth, I wouldn't worry. Leaf drop is normal during the summer, provided that new growth is coming.Make sure the trees are pruned correctly in January/ February and hopefully next years crop will equal 2008's!Our fig trees on the other hand are producing kilo's and kilo's this year, whereas the first crop fom 2008 was virually non existent.That's the way it goes. 

Can only add to the comments of Sebastiano and Russ, a bumper crop last year, but very few this year have formed. According to our neighbour this year was not going to be good anyway so an opportunity to prune well this Spring, which we did, also very little fruit due to the wet weather, apart from the pears, the figs though are doing very well and I will be making fig jam again, but plenty to spare if anyone wants to come and pick their own.A

Hi thanks for the info, makes me feel better that we haven't ruined them - we pruned well this year and I was beginning to think we'd been too drastic. Oh well, now I know - our figs trees are doing well too, so there is always a positive.Jo

We've the same here in Northern Tuscany.Figs are 3 times what we had lasdt year but Olives way down. Locals say due to wet weather and not enough flying things to pollenate due to bad weather....Roll on harvest time.. 

Olives this year in Lazio not v good but mine not too bad however the eating variety has been a complete wash-out and I have noticed different varieties have performed less well than others but so far the dreaded olive fly not too much in evidence. Apples and pears not good, plums poor, peaches OK and yes Figs great!

HiDon't be alarmed about the lack of olives this year! The Olive trees fruiting cycle is based upon alternate years. One year you will have a good crop followed by a smaller crop the next year. When you prune your trees try and prune on a low fruiting year as the tree will then go for growth of new shoots rather than fruit.

I had a look at some Spanish sites which had interesting information on olive pruning; however, no English translation was available. Nevertheless, I found this site in English which practically gives the same advice that I read on the Spanish sites. I hope it may help: www.olivebusiness.com/olivehandbook/GrowingOlives/pruning.htmIt looks as if you have an excellent crop one year, the next one is not up to the same standards.

Thanks Angie and Robert - it doesn't seem worth picking the paltry amount we have but there is lots of new growth as we pruned hard but without the knowledge we have now! We've had better success with the grapes this year, but don;t have all the kit to make the wine!Also thanks Gala for the link very informative. This is what I love about living here, always learning something new... Thanks 

Along with many others only about 10% of our trees are worth harvesting and it is probably not worth it as we may struggle to get enough for our own pressing.  As we have already organised an olive harvest trip (mid November) with extra pairs of hands I was wondering whether it wasa wise to turn it into a pruning trip.  They have not been pruned for 3 years so need it.  I have just read the excellent guide that Gala posted and it says that pruning can take place when the harvest is finished but conversly it says that pruning should be avoided in areas prone to frost - we are at 400m. So is pruning in November too early or should we come back in Feb?  Also as our trees are either side of a small dip (small valley), I was thinking it would be smart to prune just one side this year and the other side next.  As you can tell we are complete novices at this so would welcome any guidance.

I think Gregorio is right about good years and bad years. That's a very common pattern with fruit trees.Most of our fruit trees are not carrying much this year. The one notable exception, as mentioned earlier by Russ and Gromit, are the figs. But then the damn things grow like weeds here and every year produce heaps of fruit even though they're completely neglected without any fertilising or pruning. (Personally, my favoured technique for pruning fig trees involves a chainsaw and then a lawnmower regularly applied to the new shoots that pop up for years afterward.)We had a look at our olive grove yesterday and saw a fair amount of fruit on some trees and very little on others. Even the trees with the most fruit had nowhere near as much as they had last year.However, it seems to me that most of the fruit looks to be already a lot bigger than what we picked last year.Thinning of young fruit is a well-known technique for maximising the size of tree fruits, and I'm wondering if the weather this year might not have done something similar with the olives. Maybe we'll not get many olives, but they'll be so fat that the total volume won't be much less than last year. That's probably wishful thinking, but the trees around here are all doing very well in general, so it doesn't seem too ridiculous to suppose that there's a lot of energy in them needing to go somewhere.Having said that, it looks like most of that energy has gone into producing an awful lot of greenery on our trees and our neighbour's. We pruned our trees fairly hard last winter; now, someone unfamiliar with olives could be excused for thinking that they've been neglected for years. Our neighbours pruned their trees - which had been neglected for years - very hard last year; now, their trees are perfectly spherical from a distance and, up close, they're nothing but a solid mass of young growth.Al

 We own no olive tree at all, but, we get roped in, (we love doing it) and help pick neighbours and friends trees. Last year we spent about a week overall picking. It's a great experience. The weather is delightful and the midday pic-nic and glass of wine and then the afternnon session with friends and neighbours is a joy. The camaraderie and jests make it fun. The olive oil is just a bonus at the end. Last year we got given 50 litres of oil for helping out. All from 5 different sources and what a difference they all were. I wouldn't miss it for all the oil in Abruzzo. My question is, how can you possibly use all the oil you collect each year? Or don't you collect it each year?Sprat  

My experience is that Nov here in Marche is better than Feb, and our neighbours prune each tree after it is picked at that time. But I would try to rope a local in to advise on how to prune, you are looking for the open wineglass idea, to allow "the birds to fly through the centre of the tree". Also be aware that after a severe prune the next years harvest may also be low, so you are looking ahead for the year after to reap the benefits.A

 Olive trees normally don't suffer before we get down to - 8 degrees or several days of very cold weather.At least here in Abruzzo we may be talking about a night or two with those tempeatures.We have often pruned in november. I think that if you cut the branches and treat the cuts with a product to heal the "wounds", you'll not run into problems in winter either.A disadvantage of doing it early is that you risk that they grow more new "polloni", succhioni etc. when the trees start vigorating in spring.Regarding male and female: the branches with the very small, round leaves, typically on the "polloni" growing from the trunk when a tree has been cut at ground level are said to be MALE. They will become FEMALE (large, long leaves, and later fruitbearing) after a varying number of years (5-7 when growing from the root, 1-2 years when growing from the small branches in the "chioma").So generally you should say that a fruit-bearing tree as a whole always is female ;-) Ciao   

Thanks for the advice, so November pruning here we come.  As we are going to tackle only half the trees (approx 35) and ar only going for a light prune can anyone recommend the best tools as a chain saw would be too heavy but I was wondering if one of those electric powered mini chain saws on a pole were any good or would I be better advised to get a ladder and a good pair of loppers?

Here is a sample of the size of tree although these are the biggest and there are quite a few smaller ones.


Pretty trees!, for the authentic prune you need to go to the local feramenta and equip yourself with this evil looking serrated knife, if you explain what its for they will guide you to the right ones, sorry dont know what its called, but its what we and the neighbours use, its almost like a mini saw in appearance.happy pruning and be careful about whiplash from the smaller branches as they can damage your eyes, very painful.A

 Thank you for answering some of the mysteries surrounding olive trees.  I have 3 trees, appros 8-10 years old that, as yet, have not produced a single olive or even a flower. There are olive trees close by that produce in good years reasonable crops. They seem reasonably happy and have produced plenty of new growth every year...... Having problems starting new thread so have added to yours...Hope ok. A.

 could be the Dylano trees are still a bit young so play the long game! As for the original photo of the trees they seem very healthy with perhaps a need for more thinning out of the smaller branches. Funny thing olives little bit of frost at the wrong time etc and you're scuppered. Our 2009 crop about 10 per cent down on last year. PS the right time to do all olive jobs is when the neighbours are doing it!