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Virgin olive oil quality of hedgerow ‘Arbequina’ olive trees under deficit irrigation

García, José M, Morales‐Sillero, Ana, Pérez‐Rubio, Ana G, Diaz‐Espejo, Antonio, Montero, Antonio, Fernández, José E
Journal of the science of food and agriculture 2017 v.97 no.3 pp. 1018-1026
Olea europaea, antioxidants, autumn, deficit irrigation, esters, irrigation rates, nutritive value, ocimene, olives, orchards, oxidative stability, phenolic compounds, pigments, taste, trees, vigor, virgin olive oil, water conservation
BACKGROUND: Regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) is used in hedgerow olive orchards to achieve a sustainable balance between water savings, tree vigor and oil production. Its effects on the presence of compounds responsible for the taste of the oil and its nutritional value are controversial. The present 3‐year study was conducted in an ‘Arbequina’ orchard (1667 trees ha⁻¹) under a full irrigation (FI) treatment (470.1 mm year⁻¹ of water) and two RDI treatments scaled to replace 60% and 30%, respectively, of FI. The quality parameters, antioxidant contents and volatiles of the extracted virgin olive oil (VOO) were analyzed. RESULTS: In general, oils from the 30% RDI treatment had higher contents of pigments and phenolic compounds, a higher oleic/linoleic ratio and the highest oxidative stability, despite their lower tocopherol content. FI oils showed higher (E)‐2‐hexenal, 1‐penten‐3‐one, ocimene, E‐2‐pentenal and pentene dimer contents than 30RDI oils, but lower contents of (E)‐2‐pentenol and volatile esters. CONCLUSION: The results of the present study suggest that a RDI strategy supplying 30% of the total irrigation needs induces an increase in natural antioxidants in VOO. Neither yield, nor the rest of the quality parameters were affected by the reduced irrigation. However, abundant autumn precipitation can over‐ride these effects of 30% RDI treatment on oil quality. © 2016 Society of Chemical Industry