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How to Prune Olive Trees in Australia

By Jessica Schira

Although the majority of the world's olives are grown in Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Italy and Greece, there are also many olive growers located on Australia's southern coast. One of the things responsible olive growers have to be knowledgeable about is the proper way to prune the trees in their olive orchards. Annually pruning your olive trees will keep your trees at the top of their production.

Prune your olive tree in the early spring. Because Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, your trees should be pruned in late May and early June.

Don't wait until your tree is producing olives to start pruning your olive tree. You need to start pruning while the tree is young and growing.

Remove the dead limbs and twigs from your olive trees. Not only are the dead limbs unsightly, they can block sunlight and damage the living parts of your olive tree. If you can't tell whether a branch is dying, wait until the tree starts to flower. If the branch doesn't grow any flowers, or if the flowers are sparse, the limb will have to be removed.

Look for any branches that are starting to grow to close to another branch. Don't think that you have to remove the entire limb, just the part that is to close to the other branch.

Prune any small branches that are growing horizontally, these types of branches are called water spouts.

Fertilize your olive trees when you are pruning it. When it is being used for olive production, the Australian soil needs to be supplemented with NPK fertilizer.

Check for disease when you are pruning your olive trees. One of the only things that affects olive trees that are grown in Australia is a disease called Peacock spot. You can tell if your trees are infected with Peacock Spot because the leaves will turn yellow with light brown spots (they look like a giraffe's hide) and then fall from the try. The loss of leaves caused from Peacock Spot decreases the amount of nutrients your olive trees get and lower your production. The only way to treat your trees is to use a copper-based fungicide and spray your entire olive orchard. You will have to treat your orchard during the fall pruning, which in Australia is in May/June. The best time to spray your orchard is right before a heavy rainfall.

Watch for olive knot bacterium. This is a bacteria that seems to bother 2-year-old trees. It causes ugly scars and gashes to appear on the young tree's trunk and some of the limbs. The first case of olive knot was seen in 2003 in an orchard in Greensland. The best way to treat olive knot is to spray the tree with a copper-based spray. The best way to prevent the disease from entering the tree is to rub petroleum jelly over any spot that has been freshly pruned.


Things You Will Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Ladder