The olive tree is one of the most traditional and old crop of the Mediterranean areas. The olive oil obtained has served for centuries as food and applications such as raw material to lighting and medical products.
The actual situation is exceptional due to it high demand and profitability, thanks to the successful food campaign which stands out its therapeutic and nutritive properties. The crop surface is continuously growing. Spain and Italy are the main producers worldwide, followed by Greece, Turkey and Tunisia.
Climate and soil requirements
To its correct development, olive trees need few cool hours and long warm season (between the flower bud and blooming there is a 3-4 months period, and 6-7 months from the blooming to the harvest). Dry winds and high temperatures during the blooming period are critical factors to obtain a final production.
Olive trees are quite resistant to chalky (limestone-rich) soils, although there are many differences taking into account the large amount of different varieties available nowadays (Hojiblanca variety behaves well). It is very tolerant to salinity. A deficient sunlight placement will dramatically reduce the potential yield of the tree.
There are different configurations regarding the location, type of soil, variety of plant, terrain level and harvesting, among others.
Traditional plantations may have a low dense configuration with less than 70 trees per hectare, while new technified intensive production systems easily surpass the 1.700 trees per hectare.
In professional plantation, irrigation becomes essential in areas where average precipitation do not reach 800mm per year, or rainfall is not properly distributed through the year. The most critical periods in terms of irrigation are during the fruit-set and fruit growth (for table olive) and oil accumulation (for oil production).
Drip irrigation is the most suitable and speeded system to provide the water and nutrients demand for the olive trees.