To prune the olive trees: to shape and improve the efficiency of the foliage
Pruning the olive trees is a fundamental operation for trees that, if left to develop and grow naturally, tend to take on a rather irregular, bushy, globular and conical shape, due to a crown that develops, depending on the truth, in height ( some species even exceed twenty meters) or in width. The purpose of pruning must be to promote the best possible efficiency of the foliage, and at the same time facilitate the development and growth of fruit-bearing branches by removing branches. Through specific cutting tools, pruning will also have to favor a rather high relationship between foliage and wood, and contain production excesses, in such a way as to keep the so-called productive alternation under control. Furthermore, by pruning the olive tree it is also possible to intervene by modifying the conformation of the plant, so as to balance it and regulate its behavior and growth on the basis of cultural needs. Equally important will be to distribute the lighting in a correct and homogeneous manner on the different portions of the foliage.
When to perform pruning work
It should be pointed out that the best period for olive tree pruning corresponds to the conclusion of the winter months, and in any case before the vegetative restart occurs (ie the plant shoot). However, in the event that a period of frost is foreseen, the intervention must be interrupted immediately, since cold and frost are an obstacle to the healing of cuts made on the branches. If you want to avoid rejuvenation pruning, the cuts made should not be too decisive or frequent, so as to avoid the risk of limited production. Before starting to cut, of course, it is good to precisely locate the points where you want to work, also based on the purpose and the type of pruning you want to apply (rejuvenation, production and training) and its intensity. It will therefore be advisable to observe the overall status of the olive, taking into account the vegetative conditions, and obviously consider the amount of foliage that one wants to eliminate. In particular, an intervention that will remove less than twenty percent of the mass can be defined as light, while an average intervention will remove between twenty and forty percent of the frond. Above forty percent of eliminated branches, it has to do with an intense and heavy intervention. This type of pruning, however, must be carried out only in case of rejuvenation or reconstitution of the plant, in order to produce new sprouts. It is evident that the pruning intervention must also be adapted to the age of the tree on which one is working: on young plants it will be necessary to be light, while stricter interventions will work well for the less young trees. It is always advisable to start from the top and then go down, remembering to perform the large cuts first and then the small cuts.
How to use cutting tools: cleaning and disinfection
Regardless of the type of tool used for cutting (saw, knife, accept, scissors, billet or graft), it must be well sharpened, so as to obtain a clean and clean cut, and if possible tempered steel. During pruning, the blade must be continuously cleaned, in order to avoid any contagion due to diseases present on a single branch: to clean the blade, it will be sufficient to rub it with a cloth dampened in alcohol. The olive tree, moreover, can also be subjected to a pruning of production or fruiting, which is practiced in order to facilitate the development and growth of the branches on which the fruits and flowers are found. In short, it is an action aimed at making quality better and at promoting the necessary balance between productive activity and the vegetative activity of the tree.
Pruning reform, breeding, planting, rejuvenation
Reform pruning, on the other hand, is useful when the shape of the tree must be modified, for example because it is considered no longer suitable for ornamental or productive purposes. The reform, in reality, is practiced even when the conformation of the olive trees must change as a result of fires or frosts: it consists in the removal of very large parts of the plant, and in the substitution carried out using strictly selected and vigorous suckers. When pruning the plant, on the other hand, reference is made to determining, when the plant is still young, the shape of the crown that it will present as an adult. It is performed, in fact, a few years after the final planting, and affects the adult olive bearing: a bushy vase, a polyphonic vase, a cone, and so on. While breeding pruning is applied to prepare the tree for mechanized harvesting of olives, and therefore for cultivation, rejuvenation pruning is indispensable for old or senescent trees that are no longer productive (and in general for any plant that, for any reason - for example, a sudden frost - is no longer able to bear fruit). It involves a drastic reduction of the crown, or even the cut at the base of the trunk, to then choose the most robust shoots and breed them.