How to irrigate Olive Trees - Olive Farm Irrigation Methods
The olive tree is very resistant to drought, but responds greatly to the supply of water by any method. Well irrigated trees tend to produce higher yields, while the annoying phenomenon of Alternate Bearing is mitigated through a rational irrigation system. In general, olive trees that are cultivated for oil need less irrigation than those cultivated for table olives. The olive trees should be irrigated (when needed) from the beginning of the growing season until the start of winter rainfalls, because lack of water adversely affects the growth of vegetation, fruit set and development of fruit. In California, most olive farmers irrigate deeply their trees from May-June till harvest in a frequency ranging from once a week to once a month, assuming there is no rainfall during this period. However, we must be careful not to over-irrigate. According to the University of California, oil production is optimized between 40 and 70% ETc (crop evapotranspiration). Higher production is at the high end of this range. Best oil quality is at the lower end. Full irrigation increases pumping costs, promotes unnecessary vegetative growth, can reduce flowering, and increases pruning costs.
As it happens in many other crops, there are movable and immovable irrigation systems that are suitable for olive farms. Movable systems have no set up costs, but they are labor intensive. Immovable systems require an initial investment and they have to be designed and built before planting the young olive trees. Olive irrigation systems can also be divided into low-volume systems (mainly drip systems - suitable for soils with slope) and normal volume systems (sprinklers), which supply much more water per minute.
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10. Olive Tree Irrigation Requirements
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