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08 February 2017

Olive tree pruning: Science or art?

Pruning is considered from many agronomists one of the most important practices for an olive grove. With the right pruning, the farmer adjusts the tree to each specific climatic and soil conditions of the area and increases the levels of the orchard’s productivity.
There are three main pruning types:

Pruning during the early stages of tree growing
The aim of this type of pruning is for the olive tree to develop a shape during its first years of plantation, in order to facilitate all cultural practices (spraying, soil cultivation, irrigation, harvest etc) and adjust to the specific terroir.
Pruning for fruiting
The aim of this type of pruning is to maintain  the fruiting zone vigorous and active.
Rejuvenation pruning
This type of pruning is achieved by cutting the tree at the main branches or even at its trunk. The most significant practice though is to return during the next months and remove by hand  the shots that will be of no use , in order to achieve its longevity, a characteristic that the olive tree is well known for.
As far as the different tree shapes that are used around the world, some of them are found below:
1. The two-branche shape, common in Andalusia, Spain, for table olive varieties.
2. The candlestick shape - Tunisia.
 3. The double or triple trunk shape in Seville.
 4. The multiconical shape, where each  branch has the shape of a cone, found in specific areas in Italy.
5. The spherical cup shape, common in France, Italy and Greece.
 6. The spherical shape, which is not so common because it prevents a high percent of the daylight.
7. The short cylindrical shape.
8. The non-trunk shape in Tunisia.
9. The free palmate. This shape is not widely used, due to some difficulties.

Source: "Olive training and pruning" ,  Dr. Peter A. Roussos Agricultural University of Athens, Greece Laboratory of Pomology