General characteristics of the olive tree
The olive tree (or olive tree) is a fruit plant of the oleaceae family. Typical of the Mediterranean areas, it has been cultivated for over 3000 years. It prefers a warm-temperate climate. The olive tree has an average height (between 3.5 and 5 meters, usually, but more generally it falls within a height of between 4 and 10 meters), smooth branches tending to light gray, leaves narrow evergreen (green above, whitish below) and very small white flowers (which come out from February onwards).
The olive wood is used for fine carpentry, being a wood of excellent quality. What makes the olive tree a very appreciated and cultivated tree is, however, the fact of producing from it a high quality oil, highly sought after on the market. This production is possible by pressing (or milling) the olives. These are also used for direct food use, after having been subjected to a deamarication treatment (lowering of the bitter principles of the fruit).
The main risks that threaten the olive tree
The olive tree, despite being quite resistant and long-lived, is greatly affected by some climatic factors. These are primarily temperature and sunlight. Temperatures below 5 ° C they are the cause of great suffering for the olive tree. Below this threshold, it is possible for the tips of the shoots to dry out. With a temperature below 0, or in any case in case of repeated frosts, even the wood can be compromised.
Furthermore, since the olive tree is a heliophilic plant, it needs abundant irradiation throughout the year. Therefore, a significant risk factor - for the correct development of the plant - can be planting olive trees in very shaded areas. In addition to the climatic and environmental aspect, there are several pathogens that threaten the olive tree. Let's talk about fungi and bacteria. The mainly dangerous and common bacteria are the peacock's eye of the olive tree, wood decay and root rot; while among the mushrooms we should mention the `` Mange of the olive tree '' and the Xylella fastidiosa, recently protagonist for the extermination of thousands of plants in Puglia.
The first thing is certainly to prevent risks related to the climate and the environment. Therefore it will be essential to locate a suitable soil for the cultivation or location of the olive tree. The soil must be cleared of weeds and shrub vegetation, well plowed and without too many stones. If the ground is exposed to the wind, which constitutes a risk, as already mentioned, it will be necessary to protect the plants with windbreaks, which will be arranged in correspondence with the wind trajectories.
Furthermore, it should be remembered that the olive tree, although it does not require particular water needs, in drought conditions is exposed to considerable risks (for example, the drop) and led to produce up to 40% less. A moderate - but constant - water supply brings significant benefits: greater plant productivity and accelerated fruit formation. Pruning, a practice that takes place before the olive tree is fruitful (not every year), can also help the pinata grow healthy and luxuriant.
Olive tree care: Ideal conditions of the olive tree
The olive tree is a plant that adapts incredibly to the environment in which it grows. It is able to develop in soils with a high level of salinity, near the sea; just as it can bear fruit in very calcareous and acidic soils (even with a pH close to 9). Not even the shallow soils and rocky outcrops prevent its development and fruiting (think of the centuries-old specimens of the Apulian and Materan Murgia).
However, the olive tree, in addition to the mild temperatures and the solar brightness during the year, needs, for an ideal development, a fresh, well drained and moderately mixed soil. The area that prefers the olive tree is, as already mentioned, the Mediterranean one; it is the countries like Italy, Greece and Spain that have the most productive areas and with the most specimens, even if they are not the only countries to have a high number of cultivated hectares.