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Vegetative and productive behaviour of four olive Italian cultivars and 'Arbequina' according to super intensive olive training system in central Italy

Tombesi, A., Proietti, P., Iacovelli, G., Tombesi, S., Farinelli, D.
Acta horticulturae 2011 no.924 pp. 211-218
cultivars, early development, germplasm, grapes, groves, growing season, harvest date, harvesters, labor, mechanical harvesting, olives, planting, ripening, summer, trees, vegetative growth, vigor, winter, Italy
In the last years, super intensive olive groves are being planted worldwide to increase yield and reduce cost, plus to eliminate labour availability problem by using over-row modified grape harvesters. All over the world the super intensive oliviculture method is based, essentially, on cultivars ‘Arbequina’ and ‘Arbosana’. The benefit of this new training system mainly depends on the availability of cultivars characterised by compact trees, early bearing and low vigour. Since the Italian germplasm of olive is characterised by many well-known cultivars such as ‘Frantoio’ and ‘Leccino’, and it does not include ‘Arbequina’ and ‘Arbosana’, a trial to evaluate the adaptability of four Italian cultivars to the super intensive olive training system and to mechanical harvesting by an over-row modified grape harvester was set up in Umbria region, in central Italy, a place characterized by cold winter and short dry summer, assuming as reference the ‘Arbequina’ cultivar. The parameters determined were: tree characteristics (tree height, crown width, trunk diameter), bearing earliness, yield per tree, harvester efficiency and fruit losses, olive characteristics during ripening and at harvesting time. ‘Arbequina’ showed the most precocious reproductive stage, followed by ‘Maurino’, on the contrary the latest bearing was ‘Frantoio’ with only 18% of productive trees at the second growing season. In 2009 ‘Maurino’ and ‘Leccino’ achieved the highest yield (around 3 kg of olive/tree), followed by ‘Arbequina’ (2.3 kg of olive/tree), and ‘Frantoio’ and ‘Moraiolo’ the lowest with 1.7 and 1.3 kg of olive/tree respectively. The harvester efficiency was very good all over. At the third growing season ‘Arbequina’, ‘Moraiolo’ and ‘Maurino’ resulted to be less vigorous than ‘Leccino’ and ‘Frantoio’. Up to now, among the four Italian cultivars, ‘Maurino’ seemed to be suitable for super intensive oliviculture in terms of vegetative growth and reproductive aptitude.