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Morphological descriptors for studying the entry into the first-flowering of Olea europaea L.

Mezghani, A., Laaribi, I., Gaaliche, B., Mars, M., Gouta, H., Zouari, I., Labidi, F.
Acta horticulturae 2017 no.1160 pp. 91-98
Olea europaea, branches, breeding programs, canopy, crossing, cultivars, early development, flowering, fruiting, juveniles, olive oil, seedlings, tree breeding, trees, vigor, Tunisia
The prolonged length of the juvenile period is considered to be the main obstacle for any olive tree breeding program. The knowledge of the moment when the plant starts flowering is important for the breeding program. In Tunisia, a breeding program by controlled crosses of the olive oil cultivar 'Chemlali' was developed and of which some seedling plants began fruiting. Series of standard morphological parameters were used to specify the location of the first flowers within the tree canopy architecture as they are the predictors of a tree ability to enter into the reproductive phase. We found that the first flowering occurred when the plant seedling had developed around 1500-2000 cm as sum of lateral distance to the first flower and around 65-75 nodes as node number following the shortest way to the first flower.The total flower number was highly correlated with the number of flowers which appeared in the fourth and fifth botanical order. It appeared that the flowering intensity is greater in the higher-order branches. The flowering precocity was noted on the olive trees which have the highest vigor and when all branches of the elementary tree architecture were established. These predominant parameters constituted interesting morphological criteria of phase change for the olive tree's flowering stage.