Lewis Horticulture – Horticultural services; High density olive groves; olive tree; olive oil
Lewis Horticulture – Horticultural services; High density olive groves; olive tree; olive oil Lewis Horticulture – Horticultural services; High density olive groves; olive tree; olive oil Lewis Horticulture – Horticultural services; High density olive groves; olive tree; olive oil Lewis Horticulture – Horticultural services; High density olive groves; olive tree; olive oil

Lewis Horticulture – Horticultural services; High density olive groves; olive tree; olive oil



High Density Low Vigour Olive Groves

Economic pressures worldwide on production costs and increased demand for olive oil and olive oil products have helped drive the development of ‘Industrial Style’ Olive groves. A targeted olive variety breeding program developed from the internationally respected variety Frantoio over the past 20 years, together with adoption of the world’s best practices are used to consistently achieve earlier commercial yields that are higher in quality and consistency, whilst achieving a reduction in production costs of as much as 59%. This results in earlier cash returns for the grower producing superior quality extra virgin oil for the consumer.

This technology originally developed in Italy and commercialised in Australia is now being successfully practiced in many countries including Australia, USA, Italy and South Africa.

The above results are achieved through improved technology, not just a reconfiguration of existing varieties or an adoption of different methodology. The technology is a genuine leap forward, underpinned by genetic improvement of the olive variety and encompasses four general areas of olive growing:-

1.      Site selection (demographics, soil structure and composition, rainfall etc)

2.      Grove design (aspect, irrigation, run off, tree layout)

3.      Purpose built machinery (straddle harvesters, sprayers & pruners)

4.      Superior plant selections resulting in low vigour, self fertile olive trees that do not display biannual bearing tendencies. The most commonly planted and successful variety for commercial scale high density olive oil production is Signore’                                                                         

By following an established methodology that incorporates the above 4 key points a fully mechanised grove is easily achievable. This result is an ‘industrialised olive grove’ that once established permits all of the key functions, including pruning and harvesting, to be continuous, highly efficient operations possible from the very first harvest.

By incorporating these  best practices and considering all of the various functions required to be completed in a mature olive grove, the amount of labour required to correctly maintain a highly productive mature olive grove is as much as 59% lower than that achieved in Traditional High Vigour olive groves.

Coupled with this labour efficiency is an increase in oil yields per hectare and this can be as much as 30% more than the oil yields produced by conventional groves in the same area over the same time frame.

See Table 1.1 below for a comparison of High Density Low Vigour grove performance compared to a Traditional High vigour grove. The net result of lower input costs and higher oil content is a far superior return per mega litre of water. High Density Low Vigour groves achieve up to $4375 per mega litre of water compared to $2500 per mega litre of water for Traditional High Vigour groves.

For more information on returns per mega litre of water in key tree crops click here 

Commercial yields commence early and by the third year following planting machinery is able to perform all functions. Full production is achieved by year 6 with yields averaging around 15 tonnes per hectare currently being achieved and bettered.

The other significant aspect of this improved production system is the shortening of the maturation period of the fruit, this means that the purpose bred variety Signore’ matures as much as 40 days earlier than a standard variety such as commonly planted varieties Barnea or Frantoio, this has significant advantages in locations that either suffer from frosts during harvest or have a shortened growing season

The efficiency of operation at all stages of production allows the grower to optimise the timing of all processes including pruning and harvesting which contribute to both yield and quality.

The table below is an extract from a discussion paper titled 'The Case for High Density Olive Technology using low vigour Olive Varieties' This table shows actual oil yields per hectare of a High Density Low Vigour Grove as compared to a Traditional High Vigour Grove.

For a copy of the full discussion paper click here

Table 1.1                                                                                                                              High Density Low Vigour Grove Vs Traditional High Vigour Grove                          Comparison of oil yields per hectare actual results 2003 - 2007

  High Density Low Vigour Grove Buckland Park SA (Planted July 2002) Traditional High Vigour Grove Timbercorp 2002 Olive Project (Planted May 2002)
Harvest Year Litres of oil per hectare Litres of oil per hectare
2003 0 0
2004 467 132
2005 1,315 128
2006 2,880 860
2007 3,223 No information available

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To contact us for more detailed information on High Density Low Vigour Olive Groves click here

 

Lewis Horticulture – Horticultural services; High density olive groves; olive tree; olive oil


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