The cultivation of the olive tree has been accompanying us for centuries in our country and the multitude of properties that it provides are known to all. It is one of the most studied crops in the world, and is widespread in most countries, giving special mention to Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Italy or Greece; these being the largest producers of olive oil in terms of quality and quantity.
The optimum climate for the olive grove
The olive tree is a very resistant species and is fully adapted to our Mediterranean climate, where winters are mild, sunny springs and hot summers.
It withstands frost very well in this climate, although below 10ºC below zero the tree suffers damage. For optimal exploitation, the olive tree must have an average annual temperature of 15-20°C. Being able to reach maximums of 40 ° C without causing any damage.
How to water the olive tree?
The olive tree is a crop accustomed to periods of drought. Its leaves, small and with a powdery and downy underside, manage to maintain humidity for longer.
On the contrary, if we want to obtain a good production of olive oil we will have to irrigate, especially in times of great drought.
There are some critical periods in which it is highly recommended to establish irrigation. Being more necessary in the time of flower development, the formation of the olive or when the tree is young and is in the growth stage, among others.
However, in the same way that irrigation is important for this crop, it would be equally or more important not to overdo the amount of water. The olive tree is a crop that is quite sensitive to excess irrigation or flooded land with insufficient drainage. Diseases such as veticillium can originate (https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verticillium)
Finally, it is worth noting the rusticity of this plant. That is why it allows it to grow in difficult places, such as limestone or saline soils (being quite resistant to salinity).
Olive calendar. chores and tasks
The olive tree is a crop that does not require many tasks (comparing it with other plantations such as fruit trees or vines). However, there are crucial phases that can determine the future of the harvest. Whether it is harvesting for table olives or for oil production. Next, we are going to expose a general calendar of basic tasks for the olive grove. Being able to vary in a month up or down, depending on the growing area.
January and February
In most places in our territory, the olive harvest is almost finished. It is the perfect time to carry out some pruning tasks on the olive tree and adapt the structure of the tree for the next olive production. With the pruning operation, we manage to direct the tree to where we want, with the plant density we want, the shape of the crown, etc. Pruning also helps us to balance productions (since it is not always better to produce more), and even to repair and restore damaged parts of the tree.
At this time we have completely closed winter buds, and they can even remain unchanged until well into February. Everything will depend on the weather.
February and March
In this second phase of formation of the future fruit, known as phase 2 or sprouting, the buds gradually thicken. In this phase, which can happen between the months of February and March, it is common to see the first appearances of prays, a fairly common pest on the olive tree. To solve this problem, you can find a large number of phytosanitary products that work quite well.
In addition, it is interesting to reinforce the fertilizer with nitrogen, a reserve source of energy and stimulus for the production of new leaves and fattening of fruits.
The olive tree continues with its development for the following campaign. At this time it is interesting to provide a complete fertilizer of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, with special attention to the first. We will have to control the olive fly and pay attention to the possible appearance of diseases such as repilo, which we will apply copper-based products. Especially considering that at this time of year it is very common for some spring rains to fall.
If it is a tillage farm, at this time of the year it is advisable to till the land. In the case of a non-cultivating farm, herbicide will be applied to eliminate weeds that may arise with rainfall and humidity.
It is here that a crucial stage in the development of the olive begins. We still have time to apply products that fit with the formation and fruit set, such as vegetative stimulants, phosphorus-based solutions and insecticides for pest control; very common at this time.
If, on the contrary, it is preferred to maintain the olive grove without so much load (or even zero) of phytosanitary products, there is the path that leads to the organic olive grove.
This month opens the way for the appearance of the first flowers, even being able to see the stamens in some. It is usual in these months, if a fly is observed in the olive grove, to control it using foliar. It is advisable to apply it when checking that more or less 20% of the flowers have opened.
June and July
These months are essential for the development of the future olive. Having had an interesting setting, it is time to balance all the nutrients of the olive tree and provide the necessary energy for the final development of the fruit.
At the same time, in tilled farms we will give a second round that is very beneficial for the land.
August and september
From this stage, we practically have a fruit half its final size, with the bone hardened or in the process of hardening. We must continue to be careful with the olive fly, since it usually feeds by biting the fruits in the process of formation.
It is also time to remove the double crochet formed in the lower part of the olive trunk. This work is essential since these double crochets reduce the force with which the sap reaches other parts of the olive tree.
In the same way, it would be ideal to till the land in tillage crops. On the contrary, in non-cultivation crops, it is advisable to blow the accumulated leaves under each olive tree towards the outside to achieve a vegetative cover between olive trees. Thus avoiding possible erosion with the coming rains
In October, as a general rule, the fruit reaches its final size. This month gives way to the process of maturation and color change. Due to the rainfall at this time of year, the repilo disease can settle in the olive grove. Special attention must be paid to preventive treatments with copper to avoid losing a percentage of the harvest being so close to it.
Regarding fertilization, we began to increase the potassium levels in the crop, in order to facilitate the maturation stage. In tilled farms where we have previously tilled, it is time to pass the roller to get ideal land for future olive harvesting. Depending on the area in which the farm is located, the work of the roller could be brought forward to September.
November and dicember
In these final months, we will have practically all the olives with the color change, from green to dark purple. We will apply NPK fertilizers rich in potassium.
Finally, it is time to reap the fruits of a whole year worked, the olive harvest.