Cultivation of the olive tree

The olive tree represents one of the main crops of southern Italy and, for its capacity to adapt to the most unfavorable climatic and edaphic conditions. The Mediterranean climate is characterized by very hot summers and little rain, the soils are increasingly poor in nutrients, but even in these conditions the olive tree can produce.

From the olives harvested, one does not simply obtain a fruit: by the mill, oil , the extra virgin olive oil produced in Italy is a precious and recognized result all over the world. The olive tree is kept not only in olive groves for its production but also in simple private gardens and even in pots, also for its value. ornamental that this beautiful plant has, if handled with a minimum of care when pruning.

Although a very hardy tree This tree requires certain cultivation techniques, which play a decisive role in ensuring adequate productivity of the olive grove, especially when weather conditions are unfavorable. These measures mainly consist of good soil management with nutrient inputs, pruning, irrigation if necessary and adequate phytosanitary protection.

Cultivation techniques must guarantee high production yields, but must at the same time be environmentally and economically sustainable, ensure rational use of resources and possibly remain within the scope of organic farming. . Below we try to give the basic elements of a good cultivation of olive trees with natural methods.

Contents [Ocultar]

  • Soil and its management

  • How to plant an olive tree

  • Cultivation operations in the olive grove

    • Cannabis control

    • Grass

    • Fertilize the olive tree

    • irrigation of olive groves

  • How to prune the olive tree

  • olive tree diseases

  • The main insects of the olive grove

  • The olive harvest


Soil and its management

As already mentioned, the olive tree is very adaptable to the type of soil and can also live in arid or poor soils. To obtain a good production result, the intervention in the ground is important. The factors involved are different and refer to the relationship between the plant and the soil: the development of a harmonious root system, the establishment of adequate gaseous exchanges, good water retention, a supply of organic matter, balanced microbiological activity. To ensure all this, you need a loose soil and not smothered, it is very important to avoid soil compaction and for this it is necessary to reduce tillage as much as possible and always do it in dry and warm soil.

How to plant an olive tree

The planting of a new olive grove or a single olive tree is done in spring , although it is a good idea to prepare the soil in the fall by plowing or breaking up, to allow good drainage and allow young roots to penetrate the soil easily. For planting it is necessary to dig a hole of 50 cm. It is essential to buy a healthy and certified seedling, in order to avoid the appearance of diseases in the field. The variety chosen is important in determining both the quality of the harvest and the tree’s resistance to adversity. In this phase of planting, background fertilization is also carried out.

the sixth floor it is usually 5 x 5 meters, but the distance between the rows can decrease in intensive plants, although in organic farming it is good to remember that plants closer together spread diseases more easily.

Cultivation operations in the olive grove

The work in the olive grove by the winegrower focuses in particular on the optimal management of the land, avoiding compaction. Avoid plowing when the soil is wet, limiting yourself to tillage or raking necessary for good management. The problem of soil compaction is a major problem in areas with a Mediterranean climate, as it contributes to drought.

Cannabis control

Weeds are a problem in olive groves, especially in southern Italy. Indeed, these wild plants compete with olive trees and “steal” water and nutrients. From the point of view of agriculture practiced with the utmost respect for the environment, weeds should be controlled only under trees or rows of olive trees. Spring and summer weeding can be done manually on a small scale; for larger areas, pyroelectric weeding can be used. The mulch technique is still relevant, particularly useful in the early years of planting. Chemical weeding involves the use of harmful products and is not allowed in organic farming.


A good solution for soil compaction and weed infestation could be weed controlled . The main advantage of this technique is that it reduces the damage caused by excessive tillage. A well-established turf can improve the physical structure of the soil, provide organic matter, improve the glomerular structure of soil particles, and prevent excessive compaction. Having the ground covered allows the humidity level to be normalized, favoring the infiltration of rainwater and slowing down soil erosion. Grass is also a useful technique to avoid the uncontrolled development of weeds, since it allows to cover and shade the surface.

However, grass is advisable in settings where water is not a problem, since the presence of grasses inevitably leads to competition with olive trees for available water, especially in the first years of planting olive trees. olive trees.

The species most used for grazing in southern Italy are the Subterranean trifolium and the Polymorphic Medicago . They are vernacular autumn species, which accumulate biomass during the critical period of erosion and bury themselves during periods of water shortage (late spring). The burial of these species is done when they have reached 2/3 of flowering, using the technique of green manure, this serves to promote the maximum supply of nutrients to the soil.

feed the olive tree

Like all perennial plants, the olive tree must be fertilized regularly, usually once a year with an organic amendment (compost or manure) which can be supplemented with other substances.

We can deepen this interesting subject in the guide dedicated to the fertilization of the olive tree specifically, in which we discover better the needs of the tree, the symptoms of any deficiency and the best fertilizers authorized in organic farming.

irrigation of olive groves

Over time, the olive tree has learned to adapt to water-scarce conditions, due to periods of low rainfall and the high amount of transpiration and evaporation that a hot climate can bring. However, if one wants to maintain a satisfactory productivity, it can be advised to irrigate if necessary. The best method of irrigation is localized, as in the case of drip irrigation, which avoids wetting the foliage.

How to prune the olive tree

The main purpose of the pruning technique is to ensure that the plant reaches an optimal shape. and maintain it over time. Olive trees are usually grown in a single pot or more often in a polycone pot variant. Within the framework of pleasure gardens we also find a globe shape, while some varieties remain in the shape of an ipsilon or palm tree, therefore in a two-dimensional shape.

The size also serves to balance production : the vegetation is regulated so that the branches can produce continuously and not alternately, as would be typical of olive trees left to their fate. Periodic cutting interventions also serve to allow air circulation and access of the sun’s rays to the foliage, which prevents the stagnation of humidity, which is the main cause of diseases in the olive grove.

When carrying out pruning operations, it is advisable to avoid forceful interventions that leave wounds on the olive trees and allow the spread of diseases. Another good practice to avoid diseases is the disinfection of the tools used, especially if the intervention is carried out on olive trees that show obvious symptoms of disease.

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