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Adaption of commercial olive cultivation to new production zones and environments including in the Southern hemisphere - possibilities, considerations and the problems involved

Lavee, S.
Acta horticulturae 2014 no.1057 pp. 27-40
Olea europaea, climatic factors, geophytes, habitats, humans, inbreeding, industry, olives, photoperiodism, trees
Transferring plants from their native environments to new geographic regions and particularly from the northern to the southern hemisphere and vice versa is frequently somewhat problematic. Many plant species and particularly those with defined photoperiodicity for their reproductive development require considerable periods of adaptation. This is especially critical when the transfer is aimed for the development of a new commercial industry. In some cases, particularly trees and geophytes keep their original growth cycle regardless of the adverse climatic conditions for many years before regaining their normal development cycle in the new environment. The domesticated olive, Olea europaea L. var. europaea, although originating from a rather limited geographic region is easily adaptable globally in regions with adequate climates developing their growth cycle accordingly. Various similar Olea species have been established in isolated locations in different continents in prehistoric eras. These diverse olive types were considered originally as independent Olea species. However, it is assumed today that they originated from their Mediterranean habitat distributed naturally and developed in climatic suitable locations. Due to thousands of years isolation and inbreeding developed at each location some specific modifications of some characters. The similar complexity of the anatomy and basic physiology of the different diverse types and their ability to crossbreed confirmed the assumption of their common origin grouping all those “species” as subspecies of Olea europaea. The domesticated olive Olea europaea var. europaea is apparently only a few generations away from the wild type. Thus, it can be concluded that the ability of the olive to adjust and develop normally in different geographic regions was established way before any human intervention.