All the secrets you wanted to know about pruning  olive trees

All the secrets you wanted to know about pruning olive trees

Pruning the olive tree es one of the most important moments of the year.  The tree is prepared so that it produces olives  of excellent quality and so that an extra virgin olive oil of excellent quality is also produced.

Pruning  olive trees has its secrets and in this post we’re going to reveal all of them.

There are several reasons for pruning the trees and in the following lines, we’re also going to go into greater detail.

And we will also tell you some of the secrets of this activity which we have no doubt in calling an ‘art form’.

But before we do any of this, we’d like to say something.  As we’ve already pointed out, the act of pruning olive trees is one of the most important moments of the year – and for its fruit, the olive.  At Masía El Altet, we always try to have the most experts pairs of hands to do it.

In this field, experience is of extreme importance so as not to damage the tree.  And also so that our olive trees continue to produce an extra virgin olive oil which, according to some reviewers, is to be found among the best oils in the world. Some of our awards are testimony to this fact.

What we look for is quality.  But productivity too,  and that is achieved with ‘loving care’.

Ways of  pruning olive trees

But before we continue, let’s talk about the different ways that exist for pruning  olive trees

1. For formation

In this type of pruning, what we’re looking for is to form the olive tree.  This means that the person carrying out the pruning must leave the tree prepared so that the olives con be picked as easily as possible.  Pruning the olive tree is carried out like this until the tree is two years old.  In short, with this type of pruning, what we’re looking for is to give the tree a structure.  Nevertheless, it is also necessary to pay attention  to the appearance of secondary shoots, something which we don’t want.

2. For production

This is carried out when the tree is between 2 and 4 years old.  This period is when we are going to insist on the tree producing the greatest amount of fruit possible.What we’re looking for then is productivity.  The specialist will always try to make space for the younger branches, which are those which will produce the most olives.  It is also interesting for the pruning to be carried out so that the tree always  receives the same   amount of sunlight during the year. The greater the number of hours of sunlight, the greater the photosynthesis and consequently, the greater  the quality.

3. For renewal

This type of pruning is reserved for those trees which are presenting obvious signs of ageing.  Ageing is noticed when the top of the tree is thinning out   and there are less and less leaves on the branches.  The wood is old.

It is necessary to eliminate the oldest branches to make way for the younger ones.  In this way, the tree will be more productive.  In addition, if we produce olive oil from old wood, which occurs when the tree hasn’t been correctly pruned for several years, the oil will end up tasting woody, with organoleptic defects.

Reasons for pruning the tree

Now that we’ve seen the different ways of pruning, we can summarise the reasons:

  • To eliminate old branches which are not productive to enhance the growth of the younger ones
  • To prepare the olive tree for the following harvest
  • To give the tree a structure which facilitates harvesting
  • To decide on appropriate growth density and the expansion of the treetop
  • To balance out production, when a decision might be taken on some occasions to decrease it
  • To repair parts of the tree which are damaged

Having said this, on our estate, at Masía El Altet, pruning the olive trees is only carried out  by expert hands, by a group of professionals.

Hands which can assure that the olives will be of excellent quality every year.  To produce one of the best extra virgin olive oils in the world which needs  more than anything else, an excellent raw product.

The wood which is cut away is ground up and deposited in the alleys between the trees in the olive grove,  turning into organic material in the future.

The biggest trunks are used as firewood, for heating the home during the months of cold.  Olive wood is the hardest which exists and also stands out for its great heating power .

The best moment for pruning olive trees

The ideal moment for carrying out this work is just after harvesting.

At Masía El Altet, this ocurs in the month of November, immediately after harvesting and for our 1,500 trees to be pruned, one month of intense work is necessary.

This date is ideal because the temperatures don’t rise above 15ºC and the olive tree doesn’t grow in the same way as when temperatures are higher. Pruning must always be carried out before the arrival of spring, before the tree starts to flower.

Some advice on pruning olive trees

Experts in these tasks advise pruning to be carried out bearing in mind the following points:

  1. The branches should be cut  from the interior towards the exterior.  This ensures that they can be collected up easily.
  2. It is necessary to respect the correct time for pruning since it is the best way to ensure productivity in future harvests.
  3. As has been explained before in this post, pruning has to be carried out taking into account the age of the tree. In this way, pruning will be for formation, for production or for renewal, according to needs.
  4. It is always necessary to have the most appropriate tools.  It’s a good idea for tools to be sterilized before starting to prune to prevent the trees from becoming infected.
  5. Severe pruning should never be carried out. By that, we mean that which affects more than 25% of the tree.

So, in summary, pruning the olive tree is the most important task if what we are aiming at is the production of excellent quality olive oil.  This task has to be carried out by expert hands so as not to endanger that excellence we strive for at Masía El Altet.  In this post, we’ve spoken about the different types of pruning which exist, the reasons for carrying it out and we’ve also offered some advice to ensure success.

What techniques do you use for pruning your olive trees?  Have you got any secrets that you’d like to share with us?  If you have, do so in the comments section.

Did you like this post? Has it been useful? If the answer to these questions is ‘yes’, we’d love you to share it with friends and family.

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