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Pruning of fruit trees and olive trees - operating instructions…..

Pruning is a fundamental operation for the fruit trees, which, if being allowed to develop and grow naturally, tend to assume an regular shape, bushy, globular, by virtue of a crown that grows, according to varieties, height or in width at the expense of production.

A popular saying in my olive growing area cites:
"the vine is touchy as a lover, if you ignore her for a short time she does not forgive you, whereas the olive tree is like a mother, even if you neglect her for years, she won’t forget you..."

In this regard, we recall some basic concepts useful to guide our actions:
1) Plants do not need to be pruned, trees, in any case, flourish in the wild without human intervention.
2) Pruning is always a source of suffering for the plant, pruning in inadequate manner could destroy it or lead it to death.
3) Rather than pruning evil it is best not to prune.
4) Pruning is a technique invented by man with specific purposes:

 •  Give a functional form to the plant, according to the crop needs
 •  Contain the vegetative size of the plant
 •  Increase the production of flowers and fruits


5) Pruning has the intention: to give the plant a natural shape and adjust it in order to facilitate the flow of lymph in the branches, air circulation and light penetration in the canopy.

The purpose of the pruning must be to maximize the efficiency of the crown, facilitating the development and the growth of fruiting branches through the removal of excess branches, favoring a good relationship leaf/ wood, keeping under control the alternate bearing, and distributing evenly the light on the different portions of the foliage.

Each cultivated species has a precise period in which to perform the pruning.

The best time to perform the olive tree pruning is to the end of the winter, and in any case before the vegetative growth, budding if the plant.

In Italy the olive pruning is done in a very variable period of time, this mainly depends on the weather and the microclimate of the single area. Starting from warmer areas of the south, where pruning is often undertaken in conjunction with or immediately after harvesting the fruit to extend in March -April in the northern central zone, where the climate is cooler and the  temperatures are colder. This is because  the olive is a very sensitive plant to drastic thermal drop, and an early pruning would expose it to greater freeze damage.

Before you start cutting, you must accurately identify the points at which you want to intervene, also based on the purpose and the type of pruning you want to apply ( rejuvenation, production and training) and its intensity. It will be appropriate to examine the overall status of the oliveplant, taking into account the vegetative-production conditions, and of course, consider the amount of crown that you want to delete.

It defines as light pruning when less than twenty percent of the leaf surface is removed, whereas it is called intense pruning when more than fifty percent of the foliage is removed. The latter, "intense pruning", should only be implemented in the case of rejuvenation or reconstruction of the plant in order to produce  new shoots which are in fact more vigorous in winter pruning, during the phase of higher vegetative recovery, which in any case must be managed with summer pruning.

The operation of pruning should be appropriate to age of the tree on which it is undertaken: on young plants will need to be light , while more stringent measures will be ideal for the trees not so young.

It’s always best to start at the top and then toward the lower part of the tree, remembering to run before the big cuts and then small cuts.

Even the choice of the equipment used during the pruning phases  should be scrupulous in referring to the intervention to be performed. We should use equipment with well- sharpened blades in hardened steel, so as to obtain in a clean cut and free of burrs so as to exert less physical effort.

Dr. Natascia Riggi



 
 
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