The difference of the olive tree from other fruit trees, is that the olive branches permanently allow a continuous renewal of fruit bearing buds. To control vegetative growth and get maximum production, pruning is a very important task.
The olive tree grows extensively, which makes harvesting difficult and dangerous for the pickers. In its early growth years, it needs excessive pruning, to maintain the desirable height and allowing the air to circulate, and the light to penetrate through the branches for minimizing the humidity and the development of diseases. As the olive tree gets older, excessive pruning should be done less frequently.
Dense, dead and diseased branches should be removed to make room for new vegetative growth. The removing of the trunk bellow its branching points and removing the scaffolding branches, of an older olive tree, allows it to rejuvenate and get more productive. Olive trees that are overgrown, if they get cut down to a stump, then two trunks are developed. The yields of these trees on olives and olive oil are the same with the trees that are pruned regularly.
Man pruning and pruning done by man operated equipment should be done with precaution and measurements for safety should be taken.
Pruning done by mechanical equipment are cost effective, success is varying and productivity is falling into lower levels.
The cutting of the top part of a branch, is called a heading cut and it is done for the development of new shoots. When the whole shoot is removed to reduce the thickness, the cut is called a thinning cut and it is done to maintain the shape of the tree. Bending and vertically shoots are called water shoots and should be removed.
An olive tree pruned and cultivated correctly, produces good quality large size olives and good quality olive oil.
Olive growers protect their trees by attempting to manage and reduce the risk of diseases and environmental damage. They paint the trunk and at times they wrap the trunk with paper, to protect the tree from the strong sun.
To prevent health problems in the olive tree, a grower should select a proper site for planting a good variety, providing the appropriate cultivation, getting rid of weeds and generally providing the care the tree needs at the right time.
Sanitation is a very important requirement for healthy and free of disease olive trees. Parts that do not seem healthy, should be removed and disposed properly, also the pruning tools should be disinfected.
When chemicals are used, it is essential that they are handled properly, for the protection of the environment and other olive orchard workers.