How to prune olive trees

When to prune the olive trees

The best period for olive tree pruning is to be considered towards the end of the winter period, as being very sensitive to cold and to harsh climatic conditions, they would be made even more vulnerable by pruning too early. In fact, frost can hinder the correct healing of cuts made on branches with pruning operations. The most suitable time to perform these operations is therefore from mid-March to May, with the arrival of spring. Young plants will require less pruning than those of a more advanced age since they are still growing. Pruning, in fact, must be intensified as the plant ages, to rejuvenate and reinvigorate it, and if properly done, it can lead to better productivity and better future health.

How to prune olive trees: techniques

First of all the pruning of the olive trees must be appropriate to the age of the plant. Young plants require minor interventions compared to those already mature. Depending on the branch diameter, the most suitable tool will be chosen for its removal. For large diameter branches, saws will be used, and for thinner ones, shears will suffice. The first branches that will be eliminated are those that are sick, broken and dry. Then the larger and more vigorous ones will be eliminated, leaving the others to subsequent interventions. You should always proceed with pruning from top to bottom. The branches on which to prune mainly pruning are the suckers, generally sterile and consistent branches, which grow upwards, the suckers, also sterile, to then pass to thin out the internal part of the foliage and the fruit-bearing branches.

Pruning tools

The tools used for pruning the olive trees are mainly shears, scissors, the hacksaw and the saw, the taller for the taller branches, and the chainsaw for those with a larger diameter. They must be chosen, from time to time, based on the size and diameter of the branches to be cut and also based on their position. It is very important that all the tools that are used are well sharpened, and able to guarantee clean cuts without smudging, so as to reduce the risk of rainwater stagnation, which could cause the branches to rot locally and cause of wood diseases. It is always a good idea to clean and disinfect the blades of the instruments in use, very frequently during pruning operations, with alcohol-soaked cloths or bleach.

The entity of pruning

The olive tree pruning can be divided into three categories according to the percentage of branches of the canopy removed. It is called "light", when the percentage of branches removed is less than 20%, and is indicated for young plants, in the breeding phase before production, or when one wants to give the plants a year of rest. "Medium" is defined as a pruning with a percentage of removal of the branches between 20% and 40%, and is that in which most of the ordinary prunings fall. Finally, the "intensive" one which provides for removal of the foliage above 40%, which has a significant impact on the plant. This last type of pruning is generally performed when one wants to rejuvenate and reconstitute the plant, favoring the emission of new shoots.