Care of Olives (Semi-Deciduous)

Fruiting increases the stress on young trees, and should be discouraged. Precocious trees (Arbequina) should have all fruit stripped off for two years after planting; all others should probably have all fruit stripped off for at least three years. This is hard to do, after all we plant olive trees to get the fruit! All fruit trees seem to have a tendency to reproduce precociously in harsh climates. At best, this can lead to early onset of alternate bearing; at worst it can lead to tree death in an extreme winter.

The basic recommendation for pruning olive trees for the first five years after planting: don’t. Olive trees are evergreen, with most of their energy stored in the leaves. Every branch pruned off decreases the energy available for new growth (and new fruiting), just making it that much longer before trees achieve a decent fruiting size.

There are at least a half a dozen different pruning strategies for olives, the above “non-pruning” strategy will result most probably in a bush shaped olive tree after five years: multi trunked, relatively low growing and easy to harvest. After five years, the pruning strategy naturally shifts to trying to open up the center of the tree and create a vase shape.

If you feel there is a need to prune, well then prune! Crossing branches and wind rub are an excellent examples. The French have a very open pruning style: it is said songbirds should be able to fly thru the middle of French style pruned trees. When are olives ripe enough to pick? What do you want to do with the olives? For practical purposes, there are three different phases of ripening that are used for varying purposes, as follows:

  • Green ripe olives are most commonly used for green table olives. Arbequina, are also used in the green phase for olive oil.

Do not allow fruit to freeze, bring container inside to finish ripening.

Depending on variety, Olives do best with 200-300 chill hrs.

How to cure Homegrown Green Olives naturally:

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