Pruning olive trees is a task that must be done each year to keep the trees healthy, and to promote growth in areas of the tree that produce the olives in Autumn.
There are many sources of information instructing how to prune olives trees, but many such books and guides have failed to address the key principles and objective. Pruning olives trees is a cross between art and science.
Do Olive Trees Need Pruning?
Olive trees are trimmed to allow more sunshine to enter into the heart of the tree. In the centre of an unpruned or wild olive tree, you will discover many small branches that shoot straight up.
These central branches are the male and don’t produce any fruit if they continue to grow they also take away energy from the female branches that produce the fruit. They also block the suns energy from entering inside the tree and stimulating a growth response.
Every olive tree takes a different form depending on its environment and care during its lifetime. In general olive trees should take the form of a wine glass. In this case, the trunk of the olive tree is the neck of the wine glass, and the tree should be open inside in its female form to welcome the suns energy. Olive trees will usually have 3-4 primary branches that hold all the small branches and fruit.
If your olive tree is less than four years old then do not prune. It can send the tree in shock and dramatically stunt its growth. In the early years of your olive tree, you should leave it alone as uses its energy to establish itself and develop foliage. Just make sure that the olive tree has a good posture and support it with bamboo or a stake if necessary.
What Time Of Year Do You Prune Olive Trees?
In Italy, olive trees are pruned from the middle of winter to spring. An olive tree must never be pruned when it’s raining or a couple of days before or after. This is because the nodes where the cuts have been made become more susceptible for a water-borne disease to enter into the tree. Frost can also cause similar consequences for the health of the tree, which is another reason why many farmers wait until the spring. In warmer climates such as Sardinia or Sicily pruning early is of less risk.