Olive tree care after harvesting at Masía El Altet

Olive tree care after harvesting at Masía El Altet

We could dare to say olive tree care after the olives have been harvested is just as important if not more so than the harvesting itself, bottling and marketing.

What’s more. How could we not treat with all our love and attention or use all of our experience to look after trees that have given us so much?  They offer us magnificent fruits which afterwards, we convert into one of the most highly regarded extra virgin olive oils in the world.

Of course we’ll carry out appropriate olive tree care after each harvest so that each tree in our extensive olive grove remains strong, vigorous and productive and continues to offer us magnificent harvests.

In this post, we’ve set out to tell you some secrets about how we do it. About what some of the appropriate steps in correct olive tree care are.

The steps to follow for good olive tree care

The first thing that it’s necessary to do after harvesting the olives is to ‘heal the tree’.  This might seem a bit of an exaggeration but that is exactly what we do.  Allow us to explain.

It’s obvious that the use of advanced machinery technologically-speaking, such as what we use at Masía El Altet, helps us and greatly, to collect the olives quickly, meaning that we can prevent them from losing many of their qualities, both in taste and in terms of nutritional values.

But the passage of the machinery among the olive trees and the poles used for beating can leave the bark of some branches damaged and that’s where bacteria ‘could get’ in and cause problems.

If we didn’t subject our trees to certain ‘reparatory’ processes, they could contract diseases such as bacteriosis or be exposed to blights such as olive leaf spot (which is what is  most common at Masía El Altet because of its particular climatalogical conditions), olive fly, olive tree borer, olive moth … which is why it’s important to fumigate the plantation to prevent problems from spreading and to obtain a stable harvest every year.

green olive oil

Other things to be taken into account for olive tree care

To care for the tree, there are many other things which are important.  For example:

Harvesting the fruit early

It’s obvious that the longer the olive is on the tree, the more of the tree’s resources it consumes.  The olive tree is in charge of feeding the olives. So we could say that if we harvest the fruit earlier, the earlier the tree will be able to start its recovery too for the following harvest.

In our olive grove, we follow the rule strictly and harvest the olive in the month of October.  Still green. The olive before ripening and changing colour.  Why do we do this? Purely and simply to ensure far greater quality in our extra virgin olive oils.

The output we obtain per kilo is lower than if we were to harvest the olive when it’s already ripe (with that characteristic reddish-black tone) but on the other hand, the quality is greater.

In order to have a high quality olive oil, it’s not enough to simply harvest the olive when it’s still green. Other factors come into play, such as how quickly the olives are transported from the fields to the oil mill or the use of the latest food technology.

Recolección de aceituna en Masía el Altet from Masía el Altet on Vimeo.

And also early pruning

Here, we’re in a similar situation to what was said in the previous section. The branches also consume the tree’s ‘energy’. That means that if we get rid of those branches which are no longer of any use, the tree is going to be grateful for it.

In the same way that we harvest our olives early, we also carry out pruning early.  In that way, we give the tree more time ‘to gather up strength’ and start thinking about the next harvest.

Since we harvest in October, pruning is carried out in November, just after harvesting.

This moment is one of the most intense on our estate since we have to prune an amazing 15,000 trees.

But what we mustn’t forget is that the date for this task is the best since the temperatures in the Mountains of Alicante (which is where our olive grove is situated) don’t exceed 15 degrees and the olive tree, at this temperature, doesn’t grow in the same way as when the temperatures are higher.

Of course, pruning could be carried out later.  Other plantations do that, but it must always be done before spring and before the olive tree starts to come into bloom.

Pruning is, of course, an art. Only those who have great experience in this field should do it.  Were this not the case, the consequences could be disastrous. Good pruning, for example, also helps in the prevention of diseases such as the aforementioned olive leaf spot.

pruning olive trees


Tilling, fertilizing and phytosanitary treatments

Olive tree care doesn’t end with pruning although many people who aren’t involved in the sector could think so. There are always other things to do.

For example, we have to keep an eye on weeds because they also use up the tree’s resources.  Keeping them under control is imperative.

The same has to be said about knowing when to water and in what quantity. The olive is a tree which is accustomed to periods of drought but if we want to have a good harvest and olives of magnificent quality, it’s necessary to water at particular times of the year.

But remember, the exact quantity. Neither too little nor too much.

That’s what our experience dictates and the specific knowledge that we have of our area.

Water is more necessary at the time when the flower is developing, in the formation of the fruit or when the tree is young and in full growth.

Last but not least, and if we want to continue having a vey high level of olive production, it’s important to help the tree with certain early phytosanitary treatments.  All of them so that the tree never loses its energy and so that the new shoots which grow are healthy and productive.

That’s all we wanted to tell you about olive tree care.  It’s certain that there are times when there is more work than others but, to be honest, there is never a time when you stop working on the olive grove if what you want is to obtain an excellent quality extra virgin olive oil.

Have you found what we’ve told you in this post interesting? What about sharing it with all of the contacts you have on your social networks?  We’d love you to do so.

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