Timing of fruit removal affects concurrent vegetative growth and subsequent return bloom and yield in olive (Olea europaea L.). Sci Hortic

The Kennedy-Leigh Centre for Horticultural Research, The Robert H. Smith Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics in Agriculture, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot 76100, Israel
Scientia Horticulturae (Impact Factor: 1.37). 02/2010; 123(4):469-472. DOI: 10.1016/j.scienta.2009.11.014


Olive (Olea europaea) demonstrates a high tendency toward alternate fruit production, with significant negative consequences on the industry. Fruit load is one of the main cause-and-effect factors in the phenomenon of biennial bearing, often disrupting the balance between reproductive and vegetative processes. The objectives of the present study were to identify the time range during which heavy fruit load reversibly interrupts the reproductive processes of the following year. The linkage between timing of fruit removal, vegetative growth, return bloom, and fruit yield was studied. Complete fruit removal in cv. Coratina until about 120 days after full bloom (August 15) caused an immediate resumption of vegetative growth. The new shoots grew to twice the length of those on trees that underwent later fruit removal. Moreover, a full return bloom, corresponding with high subsequent yields, was obtained by early fruit removal, while poor or no bloom developed on late-defruited or control trees. Thus, the critical time to affect flowering and subsequent fruiting in the following year by fruit thinning occurs in olive trees even weeks after pit hardening—much later than previously suggested. Furthermore, the data indicate that flowering-site limitation, due to insufficient or immature vegetative growth during the On-year, is a primary factor inducing alternate bearing in olive.

Download full-text


Available from: Arnon Dag, Oct 05, 2014
  • Source
    • "In olives, developing fruit are known to inhibit concurrent vegetative growth (Lavee 2006). Under field conditions, fruit removal promoted subsequent vegetative growth, unless executed later than pit hardening (Dag et al. 2010). In the present study, vegetative growth was constitutive along the season, probably due to the relative young age of the trees and the nonlimiting water supply. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We tested the hypothesis that whole-tree water consumption of olives (Olea europaea L.) is fruit load-dependent and investigated the driving physiological mechanisms. Fruit load was manipulated in mature olives grown in weighing-drainage lysimeters. Fruit was thinned or entirely removed from trees at three separate stages of growth: early, mid and late in the season. Tree-scale transpiration, calculated from lysimeter water balance, was found to be a function of fruit load, canopy size and weather conditions. Fruit removal caused an immediate decline in water consumption, measured as whole-plant transpiration normalized to tree size, which persisted until the end of the season. The later the execution of fruit removal, the greater was the response. The amount of water transpired by a fruit-loaded tree was found to be roughly 30% greater than that of an equivalent low- or nonyielding tree. The tree-scale response to fruit was reflected in stem water potential but was not mirrored in leaf-scale physiological measurements of stomatal conductance or photosynthesis. Trees with low or no fruit load had higher vegetative growth rates. However, no significant difference was observed in the overall aboveground dry biomass among groups, when fruit was included. This case, where carbon sources and sinks were both not limiting, suggests that the role of fruit on water consumption involves signaling and alterations in hydraulic properties of vascular tissues and tree organs.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · Tree Physiology
    • "When partial fruit thinning is practiced, shoot length is also most often greater at the end of the season (Proietti and Tombesi, 1996). Shoot elongation has been found to have the capacity to increase even when fruit are removed up to 120 days after full bloom (i.e., mid-summer) (Dag et al., 2010). In terms of reproductive growth, both individual fruit weight and pulp-to-pit ratio are consistently greater in olive when crop load is low (Barone et al., 1994; Proietti et al., 2006; Gucci et al., 2007; Trentacoste et al., 2010). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The need to understand how the balance between vegetative and reproductive growth in olive trees is modified by different crop loads has become more important over the last 20 years due to increasing planting densities and the greater use of irrigation. The objectives of this study conducted in a well-irrigated olive orchard were to: (1) evaluate shoot and fruit growth dynamics following fruit thinning during the same growing season in which thinning was applied and during the next growing season; and to (2) determine crop load effects on bloom, fruit set, and fruit yield over three growing seasons. Hand-thinning of fruit 35 days after full bloom on 9-year-old cv. ‘Arauco’ trees in an “on” year led to thinning treatments of 24, 48, and 87% with respect to an unthinned control. Apical and lateral shoot elongation were measured every two weeks throughout the growing season, and fruit were sampled to determine fruit weight at the same interval. Apical shoot elongation occurred only early in the season when crop load was medium or high, while apical elongation continued for most of the season when crop load was low. Elongation of laterals contributed significantly to total shoot elongation on fruit-bearing branches in trees with low crop loads after thinning the first season. Individual fruit dry weight was reduced about 40% by high crop loads in both seasons. Differences in relative growth rates of both the shoots and the fruit due to crop load suggest fruit growth was limited by photoassimilate availability early in the season, but shoot growth was limited most of the season under medium and high crop loads. Inflorescence number per shoot was reduced by crop load in the two seasons following the thinning event. Fresh fruit yield was only reduced in one of the two biennia (i.e., periods of 2 years) in the trees that were heavily thinned (87%) the first season. The trees in which about one-half (48%) of the fruit were thinned the first season did not show biennia yield reductions and maintained a low alternate bearing index over three seasons. Thus, chemical thinning could be applied in growing seasons with high flowering. Further studies are needed to better assess competition for resources between shoots and fruit with the ultimate goal of reducing alternate bearing.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2015 · Scientia Horticulturae
    • "A pioneering study in olive found that 10 months of severe shading before flowering reduced the return bloom considerably (Tombesi and Standardi, 1977). Other factors such as early fruit removal can also affect bloom the following season (Dag et al., 2010), but the importance of short shading periods on return bloom in olive is not known. On the basis of observed responses to long shading periods and alterations in fruit load, it might be expected that radiation environment early in the season is likely to be fairly critical for return bloom. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Shading for short periods during potentially critical phenological phases can improve our understanding of the processes underlying the reductions in crop performance when solar radiation is limiting in high density orchards. Our objective was to evaluate the effects of three separate 30 day-long shade periods imposed during fruit set (FS), endocarp sclerification (ES), and early oil accumulation (OA) on some oil yield determinants and components in olive. Four shading levels (3, 20, 40, and 70% of incident photosynthetically active radiation; PAR) were applied in each period using shade cloths that surrounded one-half of large individual trees. Individual fruit dry weight, oil concentration (%) on a dry weight basis, and non-fruiting branch growth were determined at the end of each shading period, 45 days after their completion, and at the end of the season. The previously shaded- and the unshaded-halves of each tree were also harvested at the end of the season to obtain fruit number and oil yield for each half-tree. Individual fruit dry weight and oil concentration at the end of all three shading periods were decreased by shading due to reduced absolute rates of fruit growth and oil accumulation, respectively. However, at final harvest, there were no statistically significant treatment differences in individual fruit weight. By contrast, a small reduction in oil concentration persisted in the fruit from trees subjected to heavy shading during the OA period. Oil yield per half-tree at end of the season was decreased by shading applied during FS and OA periods, principally due to decreases in fruit number and oil concentration, respectively. Final oil yield was not affected by shading during the ES period. Elongation of non-fruiting branches was only decreased by shading during the early spring FS period, when vegetative growth was somewhat more sensitive to shading than fruit growth. Lastly, no consistent response of return bloom to the shading periods was detected the following spring. Our results suggest that the FS period when fruit number is defined and the OA period are more critical for determining final oil yield than the ES period. This information could provide guidance for the design of more effective management strategies in high density orchards where shading can play a key role.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · Scientia Horticulturae
Show more