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Best Practices for Farmers

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These Best Practices are based on California research conducted by UC Davis, UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) and UC Agricultural and Natural Resources (ANR).

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These Best Practices are based on California research conducted by UC Davis, UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) and UC Agricultural and Natural Resources (ANR).

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  • It is critical to assess climate before planting olives in a particular site:
    • Winter. Ideally, winter temperatures should fluctuate between 35 °F (2 °C) and 65 °F (18 °C). Temperatures below freezing cause progressively more tree damage, from small shoot and branch lesions that provide entry points for olive knot bacteria at 23 °F to 32 °F (-5 °C to 0 °C), greater tissue damage at 14 °F to 23 °F (-5 °C to -10 °C) and death of large limbs and entire trees at temperatures below 14 °F (-10 °C).
    • Spring. The bloom development period should be free of prolonged cold and wet or hot and dry weather. These conditions hinder flower development, pollination, fertilization and fruit set. Long or sudden cold spells particularly increase the negative impact.
    • Summer. Long, warm and dry summers promote good fruit development. Avoid areas with summer rainfall and high humidity, which promote fungal and bacterial diseases.
    • Fall. Temperatures below freezing often damage processing quality of fruit destined for either table or oil. Pay special attention to low-lying areas, which are especially vulnerable to colder temperatures. Fall rains improve size and value of fruits destined for table processing, but make fruit destined for oil processing more susceptible to damage, fermentation and mold and may contribute to emulsions that hinder oil extraction Rains at harvest can also hinder mechanical harvest equipment from accessing the orchard.

    Research the site history. Find out crop history from the previous landowner and, where relevant, the local agricultural commissioner’s office. Avoid soil previously planted with crops (such as cotton, cucurbits, eggplant, peppers, potato, or tomato) susceptible to the Verticillium wilt fungus, a soil-borne disease that kills olive trees. There are limited Verticillium wilt management strategies available to growers.

    Analyze the soil profile. Managed correctly, olives perform well in many soils, even those considered marginal in quality. Soil maps do not provide sufficient detail for specific orchard sites. Use a backhoe or augur and dig pits in representative places on the planting site. Examine the soil’s physical condition, including layers that are texturally different, to identify limitations on root and water penetration. Olives do not grow well in poorly drained soils. The best and most productive soils are those un-stratified, moderately fine-textured of at least 4 ft (1.2 m) in depth.

    Determine the soil chemistry. Take a representative soil sample from the orchard site and submit it to a laboratory for analysis. The best soils are those moderately acid to moderately alkaline (pH between 6.5 to 8.5). Soil below pH 5.5 can have aluminum and manganese toxicity, while soil above pH 8.5 have poor structure and may have sodium toxicity. Avoid soils high in salinity (≥4 dS/m). To avoid water penetration problems due to poor soil structure, avoid soils with an exchangeable sodium percentage of > 4 or be prepared to amend such soils to leach excessive sodium.Avoid soils with excessive boron (≥2 ppm), and chloride (10-15 meq/l) as these conditions may reduce productivity unless corrected or managed with soil amendments requiring additional expense.

    Assess water availability. Although olive trees are drought tolerant, they will grow faster and produce more consistently in California with supplemental irrigation. Supplemental irrigation water can be available as irrigation district water (surface water) or by farm wells. Sites served only by irrigation districts are at risk of water shortage during drought years.Inadequate water during floral development can lead to poor fruit set especially if adverse weather occurs during or shortly after bloom. Inadequate water through the growing season can limit fruit size for table olive growers. Choose sites that can supply olive trees with approximately three acre-feet per year for table olives and two acre-feet per year for oil olives, although more water will be necessary if irrigation efficiency is compromised by conditions such as runoff or poor weed control.

    Evaluate water quality. Knowing the site’s water chemistry will help growers manage chemical hazards and avoid excessive fertilizer use that increases orchard maintenance cost, reduces productivity and potentially pollutes water sources. Excessive sodium in water supplies concentrate in soil, causing infiltration problems. High nitrogen levels produce excessive vegetative growth hindering fruit production, encourages pest development (e.g. black scale) and adds additional pruning expense. Take a water sample and request a qualified laboratory to conduct an analysis of the elements in this table.

    WATER ANALYSIS LIMIT
    Acidity/alkalinity (pH) 6.5 – 8.5
    Electrical conductivity (ECw) < 3.0 dS/m
    Exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP) < 4
    Bicarbonate (HCO3-) < 3.5 meq/l
    Sodium absorption ratio (SAR) <6
    Chloride (Cl-) <3 meq/l
    Boron (B+) ≤ 1 – 2 mg/l
    Nitrate nitrogen (NO3-N) <5 ppm

    Assess infrastructure. Ensure essential supplies and services are within a reasonable distance from the orchard. An isolated orchard requires excessively high costs to extend transportation and water infrastructure, obtain essential supplies and services, access labor and deliver the crop.

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In this section The UC Davis Olive Center has pursued a comprehensive research program that taps into the expertise of dozens of faculty members, extension research specialists and farm advisors.

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Best Practices for Farmers

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_text admin_label=”Our Reports” _builder_version=”3.5.1″ text_font_size=”17px” border_width_bottom=”1px” border_color_bottom=”#bcbcbc” custom_margin=”||0px|” custom_padding=”15px||15px|”]Best Practices for Oil Processors[/et_pb_text][et_pb_text admin_label=”World Olive Center Database” _builder_version=”3.5.1″ text_font_size=”17px” border_width_bottom=”1px” border_color_bottom=”#bcbcbc” custom_margin=”||0px|” custom_padding=”15px||15px|”]Olive Oil Tips for Consumers[/et_pb_text][et_pb_text admin_label=”World Olive Center Database” _builder_version=”3.5.1″ text_font_size=”17px” border_width_bottom=”1px” border_color_bottom=”#bcbcbc” custom_margin=”||0px|” custom_padding=”15px||15px|”]Olive Oil Tips for Professional Buyers[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_section]