At Orto Da Coltivare we have already talked about the pruning of the olive tree and more generally its cultivation, according to organic farming methods.
Gian Carlo Cappello offers a different point of view, with a pruning that does not want to confine the olive tree to the theorized forms of aging but which is limited to accompanying the plant in its development and the singularity of each tree. We leave the floor to Gian Carlo, so that he can tell us about the reflections and the principles on which his approach is based, but also so that he can give us very precise practical advice, until we have beautiful suggestions on this plant.
Also in the cultivation of the olive tree, as in the whole agricultural sector, it is necessary untangle without prejudice the tangle of complex, costly and harmful practices which have accumulated over time and which have been consolidated in today’s agriculture. Among them is a conception of pruning that contemplates drastic and forced interventions, conflicting instead of respecting the plant.
In my opinion and experience, cultural aspects are on an equal footing with culture aspects the latter being a direct consequence of the latter in the query.
In my seminars on the care and “respectful” pruning of the olive tree, I offer an approach that places common sense as an antidote to the psychotic use of agricultural technologies.
Two fundamental principles in the care of the olive tree
To understand the respectful approach to the pruning of olive trees, there are two fundamental aspects to take into account, the purely technical questions and the practice in the field adopts these principles.
- A land according to nature . Like all trees, the olive tree also needs intact soil, in which the congenital stratifications and the cover of the plant material they produce allow the formation of humus according to Nature.
- The importance of local olive varieties. In Italy, we have a heritage of olive trees from varieties imported from Greece in Roman times. Each territory has modified the original characteristics, in particular morphological, through a process of pedoclimatic adaptation which lasted for centuries and which
Without prejudice to local specificity and the role of the soil, the growth and productivity of the olive tree continue to be the result of the basic principles of pruning. harmonization of these two aspects is crucial to avoid the contraindications of the “disrespectful” standardization of industrial crops: tillage, irrigation, reduction of planting seasons and fertilization exacerbate the reactions of the plant and force the olive tree to be pruned without the secular process of adaptation to the specific environment, which gives rise to continuous and drastic pruning, years of discontinuous production and the appearance of increasingly serious phytopathologies.
Talking about pruning without taking these findings into account is misleading, to sum up: the soil needs to be naturalized and, at least for new plantations, choose traditional local varieties respecting their habitat and giving them all the necessary sixths.
How to prune olives
In respectful pruning of the olive tree, the conformation assumed by the plant is no longer the result of conditioning according to a rigid scheme (conical, polyconical, in vase, on trellis, etc.) as currently occurs, but responds rather to individual and contingent conditions and characteristics. In other words, in all cultivation practice respect for the person prevails over the obligation to return to preconstituted forms .
For a plant like the olive tree, which in order to give good production and maintain its health cannot grow without intervention, it is the maximum of natural . The complexity and invasiveness of current techniques and the damage caused by pruning, especially in the presence of mechanization, are mutually increasing and I believe that a simplification of all olive-growing practices can no longer be postponed.
The olive tree tends to climb sacrificing the lower vegetation and, in part, the interior; when we shorten or remove unproductive branches, we cause redistribution of life force to all parts of the foliage: this principle is the basis of the choices of those who prune.
The containment of the upthrust is essentially achieved by decreasing the number of peaks , leaving a little vigor for each main branch; this will lead to the growth of underlying branches both from the platform (the so-called “suckers”) and on the internal parts of the hull (the “suckers”). But apart from these effects the choice and the reduction of the apices stimulate the reinforcement of the distal branches distributed in the median band of the foliage (the “eaves”), which they are able to produce.
Under conditions of naturalization, it is sufficient with removal of all basal and internal branches , with a non-invasive classification of the external branches whose selection is very easy since those coming out of the productions of previous years appear almost leafless, especially the apical ones (see illustration).
Period indicated for pruning is the period between harvest and the end of March , not later. Respectful pruning can be done with varying frequency and not necessarily every year . It can be pruned every 3, 4 or even 5 years, with the only precaution of removing suckers and suckers from the foot during the summer period, which will never be vigorous.
The importance of the olive tree
I have had a particular affection for the olive tree since my childhood and I believe that if we are what we are, at least in the West, it is thanks to its culture. The Aramaic term olat it means ” ancient light in the earth “, attribution due to the extraction of “lampante” oil from the drupe of the olive tree, a sure and lasting source of luminosity and warmth and the probable beginning of the emancipation of humanity from the terror of darkness, in which the random flame of bonfires and torches did not give certainties, so it is no coincidence that » Holon in Greek, the language of the first great olive growers, means “ everything and it is perhaps for this reason that the empire of the Greeks was only on Mount Olympus.
Like all emigrants, when Aeneas fled from Troy, he brought with him his cults and among them the olive trees dedicated to Athena. Taking refuge at the mouth of the Tiber, cultivation began on Italian soil. Thus, their descendants were the ” o latini “, the inhabitants “of the land of olive trees”, that is to say” the o-latium “: the Lazio .
We owe Athena the mythical creation of the olive tree , which she herself gives to the Athenians and to all mankind. In mythology, Athena is an accomplice of Prometheus in many events and the latter has slyly taken not the fire, but the light of the chariot of the Sun to deliver it to humanity. So it all adds up. And it was under the aegis of Minerva, O-latin acquisition of Athena, that the Romans pushed the cultivation of the olive tree to the extreme limits of the Empire.
In the transposition of ancient languages, B and V are interchangeable and it fascinates me to think that o-libertas “, ” freedom “, the two the state of the one who owns the olive trees .
The words derived from the initial strain determined by the olive tree and its attributions are enormous: libations, sweet, clear, lipid and so on . I would like to emphasize among them the importance for us modern people of the term " holistic ".
But the verbal link with the olive tree and its derivatives is also present in non-Latin languages, to give just a few examples: everything, live, life, live, liebe … Once the philology and the assonance have been created, everyone can take pleasure in discovering others: this is virgin territory.
And finally I invite you to join my praises to the olive tree: