Pruning an olive tree : when and how ? Our advice

The olive tree can be the subject of various types of pruning. Everything depends on its use since it is grown either asornamental treeeither as fruit tree in order to harvest its delicious olives. In the latter case, it is better to live in a very sunny region, namely in the South. Let’s find out together when to prune an olive tree and how to proceed.

Ornamental pruning of the olive tree

If you want to grow an olive tree for its beauty and not for its fruit, you can let it grow freely or prune it. in the bush, in a ball or Japanese style with a very artistic type of size called the size in cloud. What counts is to give a very decorative particular architecture to the olive tree. Ornament cutting is done at the end of winter, exclusively during a frost-free period. It can be limited to the following actions:

  • Clear the base of the trunk,
  • Eliminate intersecting branches, dead, fragile or broken branches,
  • Remove low branches to facilitate circulation around the olive tree,
  • Prune, keeping a light hand, the end of the branches in order to give the olive tree the shape you want.

Before starting an ornamental pruning session, it is necessary to observe the tree carefully by standing at a sufficient distance. It’s all aboutbalance. We take care of keep the branches harmonious and those that sport a slightly drooping habit for an aesthetic touch.

In the case of a cloud cut, the antlers are cut so as to form platforms at different levels (these are the clouds). The branches starting from the trunk and the carpenters and which are not useful are removed so that the structure that is unobstructed. During the first years, the olive tree does not yet sport the desired final shape since it can only be obtained after several prunings, the time necessary for each cloud to gain in density.

Olive tree maintenance pruning

Of late March to mid-Aprileach year, we carry out a very light size of the olive grown as an ornamental specimen. This size is just for balance your frame by clearing the tree of frail or diseased branches and dead wood. It is practiced only on olive trees at least 3 years old whose framework is already in place. It’s a soft waist which can only be carried out every 2 years, or even less frequently. The method is simple since all you have to do is:

  • Eliminate superfluous suckers that compete with the trunk,
  • To remove the branches that grow towards the heart of the tree in order to keep only those that are well oriented. In Provence, where these emblematic trees are well known, the following adage is very evocative: “ A bird must be able to sneak between the branches of the olive tree without its wings touching them ».
  • To promote the circulation of air within the antlers as well as the penetration of heat at the slightest sunshine.
  • To cut under the last branch which precedes the arch to remove the arches.

It is necessary to remove the useless suckers by cutting them flush with the carpenter branches, taking care not to injure the latter by cutting into them with an unfortunate blow from the shears or arboreal saw.

Cup pruning of the olive tree, fruiting pruning

It is mainly in the most southern regions that fruiting pruning is practiced. North of the Loire, where the climate is not as mild as in the Mediterranean areas, it is considered superfluous because even if the olive tree can produce fruit there, the maturity of the olives is not at all guaranteed in this geographical area.

This size, which can be annual or intervene only every 2 years, applies only if the olive tree is grown for its fruit. It does not dispense with carrying out a maintenance pruning or a goblet pruning beforehand, quite the contrary since it simply completes these prunings. The traditional goblet pruning is the most practiced on olive trees since it allows to aerate their crown, to give them a balanced shape but also to prevent the olive trees from becoming too large. It therefore consists of:

  • Remove the shoots developing during the first years on the main stem which will become the trunk of the tree,
  • Remove the central branch when the olive tree is 1.50 m high, i.e. when it is around 4 years old,
  • Form the goblet by keeping five carpenter branches,
  • Remove all branches that have already produced olives,
  • Shorten the longest branches.

This agricultural pruning turns out to be absolutely essential if you want to harvest a lot of olives. It is indeed crucial in terms of production because it promotes the development of new branches which will produce fruit after 2 years and makes it possible to obtain olives of much better quality because their maturity is facilitated. The fruits developing near the trunk being more qualitative than those further away, the solution is therefore to reduce the length of the branches.

Pruning an olive tree: some tips to follow

Care should be taken if pruning fruiting only every other year because it is necessarily more severe than annual pruning. It therefore leads to a lower yield, the olive tree having to produce new branches to the detriment of olives during the year following pruning and during the second year, it will spend its energy producing fruit but there will then be less new branches. Consequently, it may be deemed more judicious to prune the fruiting body each year so that it is not too severe.

Whatever pruning is chosen, care should always be taken to do it outside of periods of frost as we have seen previously, but also when the sunshine is not too strong. And if it is strongly advised to prune the olive tree if possible before May it is because during this spring month begins the bloom of this tree. In regions with harsh climates where late frosts can still be severe in May, if you still want to see a few olives grow, it is in your best interest to be cautious.

Pruning an olive tree grown for ornament or for its fruit requires a certain know how and don’t forget to apply a antifungal treatment after pruning. Bordeaux mixture is fine. From healing putty may also be necessary. Amateur gardeners with no experience in the field of tree and shrub pruning therefore have every interest in entrusting this operation to a professional. landscaper who will make them benefit from his great experience with plants.

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