olive grove care calendar

Olive Grove Care Calendar: A Month-by-Month Guide

From personal experience, I understand how challenging it can be to keep track of all the tasks that need attention in your olive grove each month.

Certainly, as you gain experience, managing these tasks becomes second nature. However, if you’re a beginner (and I still consider myself somewhat of a novice), it’s always helpful to have a handy calendar of duties. That’s precisely why I’ve created this detailed Olive Grove Care Calendar, guiding you through each month with a tailored set of tasks.

1. January

  • Tree Rejuvenation: January is the dormancy period for olive trees, presenting an ideal time to rejuvenate neglected, damaged, or unproductive trees.
  • Winter Inspection: Conduct a thorough inspection to assess the population of scale insects and detect olive peacock spot disease, essential for planning effective protection.
  • Fertilization: If basic fertilization hasn’t been done, the end of January is suitable for applying well-rotted manure or a complex mineral fertilizer with a low nitrogen content. Incorporate the fertilizer into the soil to nourish the trees without promoting excessive growth during their rest period.

2. February

  • Bud Differentiation: February is when olive trees differentiate buds, with a possibility of vegetation starting by the end of the month.
  • Pruning: Depending on weather conditions, this month is suitable for starting the regular pruning of olive trees.
  • Planting Suckers: It’s an appropriate time to plant suckers.
  • Preventive Protection: Apply copper-based preparations for the preventive treatment of the olive peacock spot. If scale insects are noticed, use treatments combining mineral oils and copper for effective control.
  • Fertilization and Soil Work: By the end of February, consider applying nitrogen fertilizers to nourish the olive trees. Also, perform shallow soil cultivation to eliminate weeds and loosen the soil, facilitating better root aeration and water penetration.

3. March

  • Continued Pruning: Regular pruning of olive trees should continue throughout March.
  • Fertilization and Soil Cultivation: If not already done, early March is the time to apply nitrogen fertilizers and perform shallow soil cultivation to encourage healthy growth and ease soil compaction.
  • Regular Visual Inspections: Start conducting regular visual inspections of the olive trees to detect any pest presence. Repeat these inspections at two-week intervals or more frequently as needed.
  • Pest Control Strategies:
    • Beetle Attraction: At the beginning of the month, place freshly prepared bundles of branches on the olive trees as bait for beetles.
    • Protection Against Weevils: For young trees, and occasionally for older ones, set up mechanical barriers around the trunks to protect against weevils.

4. April

  • Flowering Begins: This is the month when olive trees start to flower.
  • Pruning Completion: Ensure all pruning is finished by the end of April, and remove all pruned branches from the grove to maintain cleanliness and prevent disease spread.
  • Soil Cultivation: Perform shallow soil cultivation if necessary to control weeds and facilitate healthy tree growth.
  • Ongoing Visual Inspections: Continue with the visual inspections of olive trees, as well as monitoring beetle and weevil traps. By the end of the month, remove and burn beetle traps to prevent infestation.
  • Disease Monitoring and Control: Use lime-sulfur methods to check for new infections of olive peacock spot and apply treatments if needed.
  • Planting and Grafting:
    • Suckers and Container Seedlings: April is a good month for planting suckers and container seedlings.
    • Grafting: It’s also an optimal time for grafting olive trees, with the best period being when the moon transitions from full to new.

5. May

  • Bloom Phase: The flowering phase for almost all olive varieties begins in the second half of May. During this time, olive trees have an increased need for water, making it crucial to ensure the soil retains sufficient moisture.
  • Foliar Fertilization: Apply foliar feed with boron to support better flowering, pollination, and fruit setting. This step is essential for the development of a fruitful harvest.
  • Continued Monitoring: Keep up with the regular inspections of olive trees. Shaking branches in the early morning can help detect the presence of borers. Also, monitor for the flight patterns of the olive moth and undertake preventive actions against these pests.
  • Integrated Nutrition and Protection Strategy: Combining boron nutrition with pest protection is possible and beneficial. When doing so, ensure that the pesticide is added to the boron solution and not the other way around to enhance the effectiveness of both the nutrient and the pest control efforts.

6. June

  • Peak Flowering: June is the month when olive trees are in full bloom.
  • Pest Monitoring: Continue monitoring for the olive moth and borers. Should there be a need, apply registered insecticides for protection against these pests, especially when the olive fruit is about the size of a wheat grain.
  • Boron Foliar Fertilization: A new round of foliar feeding with boron is necessary to support the development of the fruit. Combining this nutrition with pest control is possible; remember to add the pesticide to the water solution of the fertilizer, not the other way around, to ensure effectiveness and safety.
  • Soil Cultivation: Conduct shallow soil cultivation to eliminate weeds and preserve soil moisture. This practice is crucial for maintaining the health of the olive grove and supporting the growth of the trees during the critical fruit development phase.

7. July

  • Irrigation: In typical years, the beginning of July marks the start of supplementary irrigation for olive trees wherever possible.
  • Soil Cultivation: Continue with shallow soil cultivation to destroy weeds and break up the soil crust as a drought defense measure. Green pruning can also serve as an effective strategy against drought.
  • Pest Monitoring: With the increase in fruit size, the first generation of the olive fruit fly begins to emerge. Install yellow sticky traps to monitor the fly’s activity and regularly inspect fruits for the presence of eggs and larvae. Based on these observations, take appropriate protective measures. Enhance protection by setting up traps (pheromone and/or food-based).
  • Disease Prevention: Humid summers can heighten the risk of olive peacock spot infection, underscoring the need for preventive measures against this disease.
  • Nutrition: It’s advisable to provide olive trees with a balanced supply of micro and macro nutrients, such as Miracle Gro Performance Organics, to support their growth and health during this critical phase of development.

8. August

  • Fruit Development: This month continues the trend of fruit growth and marks the beginning of oil accumulation in the olives.
  • Continued Irrigation: Maintain the irrigation of olive trees and continue implementing drought prevention measures.
  • Pest Monitoring – Olive Fruit Fly: The second generation of the olive fruit fly appears in August. Protection plans should be organized based on the monitoring of the fly’s activity and fruit infestation levels. Regularly check and replenish olive fruit fly traps as needed.
  • Jasmine Moth Monitoring: On younger olive trees, begin monitoring for the jasmine moth. If necessary, arrange for protective measures to combat this pest.
  • Disease Control: Use lime-sulfur methods to determine the percentage of new infections of olive peacock spot. Organize protective measures if the infection rate is significant.
  • Nutritional Support: Continue to provide nutritional support to the olive trees with a balanced supply of micro and macro nutrients, such as Miracle Gro Performance Organics , to promote healthy growth and development.

9. September

  • Pest Monitoring – Olive Fruit Fly: September witnesses the emergence of the third generation of the olive fruit fly. Continue monitoring the fly’s activity and fruit infestation levels, implementing protective measures based on your findings. Now, it’s crucial to consider the pre-harvest interval (PHI) of any pesticides used to ensure compliance with optimal harvesting timelines.
  • Jasmine Moth on Young Trees: Pay extra attention to the jasmine moth on younger olive trees and take necessary actions if detected.
  • Fertilization: This month is suitable for basic fertilization with either well-rotted manure or a balanced mineral fertilizer rich in macroelements. Be sure to incorporate the fertilizer into the soil to enhance nutrient availability and support healthy tree growth as the harvesting season approaches.

10. October

  • Harvesting Month: October is the prime time for olive harvesting. Organize a staggered harvest based on the different maturation times of each variety. It’s crucial to process the harvested fruits as soon as possible, ideally within 24 hours, to ensure the highest quality of olive oil.
  • Harvest Timing: Begin harvesting when about 30% of the fruit’s skin has changed color. Early harvesting not only yields higher quality oil but also prevents fruit drop and halts the further development of the olive fruit fly.
  • Post-Harvest Protection: After the harvest, it’s important to apply a copper-based treatment to protect the trees from diseases.
  • Continued Monitoring on Young Trees: Keep an eye out for the jasmine moth on younger olive trees, taking necessary measures if spotted.

11. November

  • Late Variety Harvesting: November marks the end of the harvesting period for late-ripening olive varieties. Prompt processing of the fruits and careful oil management are essential steps during this month.
  • Oil Storage: Olive oil should be stored in stainless steel containers or dark glass bottles, depending on the quantity. It’s vital to minimize the oil’s exposure to light, oxygen, and high temperatures to prevent oxidation and quality degradation.
  • Oil Decanting: Decant the oil 2 to 3 times every 20-30 days to ensure its purity and quality.
  • Post-Harvest Protection: Following the harvest, apply a copper-based treatment to the trees to protect them from diseases.
  • Soil Cultivation: Perform deep soil cultivation to improve soil structure and enhance moisture retention for the upcoming growing season. This practice is key for preparing the olive grove for a successful year ahead.

12. December

  • Dormancy Phase: Depending on the temperature, olive trees are either entering or already in their dormancy phase. This period is optimal for rejuvenating neglected, damaged, or unproductive olive trees.
  • Basic Fertilization: For those who haven’t applied basic fertilization yet, December is a good time to do so using a complex mineral fertilizer with no or very low nitrogen content.
  • Fertilization Timing: In case of a mild and rainy season, it might be better to delay the basic fertilization until the end of January. However, attention should be given to the olive peacock spot disease, and efforts should be made to organize protection using copper-based treatments.
  • Copper Treatment Caution: Remember, copper treatments should not be applied at temperatures below 10°C (50°F) to avoid potential phytotoxicity to the trees.