How to fertilize Olive trees - Olive Farm Fertilization
It was previously believed that the olive tree was suitable for poor and dry soils and could give satisfactory crops on land considered unsuitable for other tree crops. This is true but it doesn’t mean that the olive tree actually prefers such an environment. The olive tree grows and produces fruit better in fertile soils with adequate moisture.
Before we apply any fertilization method in our olive grove, we should know the physical properties of soil (texture, permeability, depth, etc.) as well as the levels of available nutrients, which is influenced by various factors and is useful for dealing with lack or excess of some nutrient. Two very interesting parameters are soil pH and its content of calcium, because they affect the absorption of some nutrients supplied by fertilizer. The optimum pH for the olive tree is about 6,5 but the average olive tree can produce fruits at soils with pH from 5,5 to 8. A common corrective action in order to fix the pH before planting young olive trees is adding lime to the soil (consult your local licensed agronomist).
The minimum acceptable nutrients rates after chemical leaf analysis are 1,5% for N, 0,1% for P and 0,5% for K. Nitrogen is the most important nutrient element when we grow olive tree for olive oil or table olives. Nitrogen is necessary for germination and production of olives. The main symptom of a lack of nitrogen is small in length annual vegetation. The leaves are much shorter than normal and do not gradually turn deep green as normal leaves. When we diagnose a lack of Nitrogen, we should consult the local agronomist in order to form a rational fertilization program.
A common olive tree fertilization scheme used by hundreds of experienced olive farmers consists of adding 8-15 lbs. (4-7 kg) of N-P-K 11-15-15 fertilizer in every adult tree once or twice a year. The most suitable period is during the fall and winter in non-irrigated trees. We can add the fertilizer in the ground at a radius of 2-3 ft from the trunk, so as to avoid excessive concentration of a nutrient in one spot versus another. However, these are just some common patterns and should not be followed without making your own research. Every field is different and has different needs. It is beneficial to test your soil at least once a year, and take corrective actions after consulting an expert.
The organic matter in the various stages of decomposition and especially as humus is beneficial in many ways. It improves soil conditions, such as consistency in light soils, improves the texture of heavy soils, functions as pH adjustment, maintains soil moisture, increases soil capacity, activates soil microorganisms and increases the absorption of nutrients. Consequently, organic fertilizers should be the basis of a rational olive fertilization program. Organic matter in slurry form in the autumn must be provided and incorporated into the soil in sufficient depth. In olive farms with no irrigation and no frequent rainfalls, many farmers provide 10-20 tons of manure per hectare every two years. In well irrigated areas, this corrective action is often performed every 3-4 years. Again, these are just common patterns and every farmer must make his/her own research and soil test analysis before applying fertilization methods.
Calcium levels are very important for a healthy olive tree, as Calcium reduces susceptibility to diseases. The most common symptom of calcium deficiency is chlorosis (leaves turn pale or yellow-white). Calcium deficiency is often corrected by adding 6 – 7 kg of calcium oxide per mature tree (consult your local agronomist).
Magnesium and Boron are also important for the proper fruit development. Magnesium (Mg) is the central part of chlorophyll molecule, while Boron (B) plays a vital role in the metabolism and transport of sugars. In many cases, if farmers diagnose magnesium or boron deficiency in the middle of the vegetative period, they apply foliar fertilizers (11-0-0-16MgO, 20.5 % B).
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9. Olive Trees Fertilization
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