What's what in the olive grove?

We have a lot of questions come our way this time of the year about why some olive trees are flower and others don’t? So here is a bit of a guide on what’s what in the olive grove.

Olive trees can take up to eight years to start to produce flowers and come into fruiting. The tree flowers late in spring from buds which were initiated in late winter. A cold winter will lead to more flower buds, while a previous heavy crop will result in fewer flowers next spring.

Olive flowers are mainly wind-pollinated and are partially self-fertile, but many flower may be imperfect, lacking the female part, and so cannot set fruit. Cross pollination may improve fruit set.

Some reasons for a poor crop include:

  • Poor pollination (perhaps due to hot dry winds or heavy rain at flowering time).
  • Insufficient water when flowers are setting.
  • Insufficient winter chill to ‘set’ the fruit.
  • Perhaps the variety may not be suitable for the location it is growing in.

To ensure a good crop, make sure the trees have plenty of sunshine and there is plenty of air circulation in the canopy of the tree. Keep them well watered, perhaps a drip system may better suit your trees. Make sure the area is well drained. Fertilise with a fertiliser that has a suitable NPK for fruiting trees (one that has a high potassium percentage). Give the tree a pruning after it has produced the season’s crop.

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