[quote="hills"]I have just purchased an olive grove in Spain, I would appreciate any advice on how to harvest, and on when and how to prune the trees. All advice is welcome, thanks.[/quote]
I have a house in Amman Jordan and my garden contains about 40 olive trees of various types and ages.
I have never bought olive oil or pickled olives for the last 23 years.
I care for the trees, prune them immediately after harvest and stand on the press day or night and receive my fresh oil in my special containers. The follwoing information is for you and all other olive tree owners.
weekly care ..... just cut away any dried up branches and burn them.
watering....... olive trees are great survivors and they do not need any watering except in the harsh hot summers, once or twice in July/August
during snow ..... if snow is mild do not touch. If snow is heavy just brush off lightly some of the snow.
The tree will flower in spring it is advisable to not to spray any chemicals so that all sorts of insects pass by and touch the flower to germinate.
If you like to spray..... do it once when the flowers turn into large fruit.
In October the friut will have arrived at its best size but like all fruits it is not yet ripe and does not have all they olive oil you are looking for.
Harvesting.... delay you harvest untill all the green olives turn brown and then black,,,, when they are black they are soft and juicy and ready to press.
When the olive is green in October it is hard to harvest and contains 50 % less oil. In November or when it turns black ... It is easy to harvest and contains all the oil you need... 100%
To harvest you need a large size cloth to suround the tree and all its branches laid on the ground.... You need a ladder and soft plastic pipe like the one you use of electric conduit .... with shich you hit the branches that carry the fruit. Do not hit hard and do not try to get all the fruits, so that you do not damage the branches which will carry next years fruits.
Once the fruit and some leaves collect on the cloth under the ladder.... go down and collect the fruit and in large cercular pans .... and lift them in the air and let the wind blow so that the leaves are blown away.
Collect the fruit in 50 kilo bags and let them stand in a cool and moist basement.
When you finish all harvest transport to the press and collect the oil in black 20 kilo/litre and store in a dark store.
Storage......In black plastic containers in dark moist basement, oil will stay fresh for years.
Pruning.... They minute you finish harvest in November ... cut all the dried up branches and remove all conjested branches in the middle.... lit all they leaves see the sun and air. Also cut all branches that are higher than your harvesting capabilities.
First aid..... cover all cut ends of branches with special material which will seal the wound.... every cut in the trunk or on the branches is a wound which should be cared for. either seal it of if it is large and oin the trunk cover it with mud and wrap it lightly with a plastic cover like a human wound.
Every 1000 square meters / about 20 mid size tree would give you an average of 40 litres of oil depending on the type, location and conditions.
Usually Olive trees give their best one year and their worst the other.
If you do not spray, water, prune, or give any care for the olive tree it will still flourish and despite all harsh conditions it will produce for hundreds of years to come.... this is Ideal for the lazy farmer.
In the Arab world we say .... They have grown ( meaning our fathers)
so we ate .....and we grow .....so they will eat ( meaning our children).
My heart bleeds every time I see an Israeli buldozer pluck out an old olive tree grown by my Cannonite fathers.... a tree which has seen genesis.... Moses... Jesus... and Mohamed.
I hope the above will help all olive tree owners all over the world.
Sameer of Jerusalem