Hi there. We have 60 olive trees in

williamjohnchambers@gmail.com Image
10/26/2015 - 12:26

Hi there. We have 60 olive trees in Puglia that are badly in need of some husbandry and I aim to give them my full attention when I retire next year. Is anyone aware of a practical 7-10 day course I could attend to prepare me for the task? Bill



No, but I can only applaud your decision to try to find a way. I would suggest you find the best person in your area (I'm sure there will be one) and get them to give you lessons. Unfortunately I'm also sure it takes years... Still it's a great retirement project!

Hello. I live in another region of Italy so cannot advise you on courses. As the better-half of an organic-oil producer, I would urge you to pay someone to prune your trees in the beginning as they've been neglected for so long, despite your obvious enthusiasm and willingness to take on the task. Pruning olive trees depends on several variables, especially the location of your trees (sea level, in the hills, exposed area, etc.). It's easy to make mistakes and mistakes can affect the yield or even damage the tree. Have a look at local groves and ask around. That said, don't be surprised if some stick to one way of pruning and others don't. I still remember when my late father-in-law, his brother and another male relative spent a whole Christmas Day afternoon discussing the best way of pruning, each swearing his way was best, of course. The debate heated up as the wine flowed. Best wishes for your move to Puglia.

Usual rules of pruning apply. Dead, diseased and crossing, aim for the goblet shape. Pruning for maximum yield of olives and maximum yield of firewood seem to be mutually exclusive. We err on the firewood side. olive trees bounce back remarkably well. You'll need a one handed chainsaw, my Stihl is great. Always plenty of folks around to give advice! Good luck! Billy

I find the last two apparent contradictory posts from BarbaraC and bunterboy fascinating as I suspect they are indeed both right! The first is looking at expert production of the highest yield possible and the second maintaining a large number of olive trees. I also think what bunterboy has said is very true that olive trees, in the sense of their survival, are almost like weeds. My previous reply was thinking like Barbara, high yield and ease of picking. To get down to such precise detail taking into account location is an art and would take years to get right. But Bunterboy’s “Dead, diseased and crossing, aim for the goblet shape.”  I think is absolutely true and a classic way to prune most fruiting trees.  Have to admit I would have never thought (especially not having any) of harvesting for the wood. A sin some might say, but olive being such a superb firewood, it’s a great use. Obviously ideally you would have the oil, wood cuttings and sansa. There is masses of information on pruning olives on the web. I don’t think you could ever become and expert or even part proficient from it, but you could get a good idea of what people are trying to do when you watch them or speak to them about it. On that subject, an important word to learn “perché” Best of luck in you venture…PS I would go with the Stihl, but perhaps look at their extended pole saw

Sadly we do not have any olives or should that be gladly!  We helped 4 different lots of friends with their olives. The last lot (still a day or so to do) always “prune” at the same time as they don’t have the compressor and clackers, so do it by hand. The guys next to us with 600 massive trees was taking on average 90kg per tress (so he told us) and they have the works compressor with pole saw attachments, don’t know if they prune and harvest at the same time every year as it’s the first time I’ve seen them there. Can’t believe the scale of their operation, nets down, cut, someone holds cutting while other clack them and others are clacking the trees. They had two massive trailers for 2 tractors which must be equivalent at least 4 of the frantoio meter boxes. All are well pleased with this year’s crop, one with only 24 trees 5-6 years old had over 900kg, their best crop yet! I’m really pleased for everyone as last year no one here harvested and for a lot of them it’s a big portion of their livelihood. I totally agree the new oil is superb this year here too, although a few we have spoken to, including Italians, say the do not like the fresh oil. To me it's at its best in the first 2-3 weeks, first days being amazing!!!