What is Alternate Bearing?

Alternate bearing is the tendency of some fruit trees to produce a much greater than average crop in one year and a much lower than average crop in the following year. Alternate bearing is a common phenomenon in many fruit tree species. It causes severe labor and economic problems because the production is not the same or nearly the same (in terms of quantity) year by year. In many cases, it cannot be projected by the grower.

The olive tree is widely known for its strong tendency towards alternate bearing (biennial bearing), which severely affects the fruit yield from year to year. A large production in year 1 removes most of the various carbohydrates, organic nitrogen components, and other essential nutrients, making the available stock insufficient to produce a new crop in year 2. Some farmers believe that- by supplying olive trees with excessive nutrients in year 1 or year 2- they can minimize the phenomenon of alternate bearing. However, researchers have proven that summer pruning and sophisticated irrigation are some methods that have some chances of achieving (partial) normalization of fruit production.


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