Do olives like drought?

Do olives like drought?

Picture: Mid season drought affected olives

Everyone knows (somehow) that olives live in dry conditions.  So when there is a drought we think it will not be a problem for the the olive tree.

The assumption made is that because an olive tree can live in the dry conditions, the drought does not matter for the productivity of the tree, because 'olive trees like (live) dry conditions'. 

See how the assumption changes from live to like.

The reality is different.

Olives will live in dry / drought conditions. (true)

Olives like dry / drought conditions (false)

When there is a drought, olives need to be irrigated. This is so the tree can maximise its fruit growing.  Like human it will put on weight when everything is in abundance.  So abundant sunshine (from the drought) and water from the irrigation maketh the tree happy, and therefore more productive.

A productive tree produces a lot of fruit, and grows them big, all the while filling the fruit with oil.

Irrigation can double production, or a the least make the difference between a no harvest and a harvest.

Why no harvest?  Lack of flesh in the olive due to no growth gives no place for the oil to accumulate.  So you may end up harvesting small fruit with limited oil in them, pushing costs through the roof.

I'll share two actual stats from 2020 harvest.  A stark difference.

Irrigated Grove 

Produced 25kg fruit per tree @20% oil yield = 5 litres oil per tree

Drought affected Grove

Produced 15kg per tree at 10% oil yield = 1.5 litres oil per tree

So teh answer is no, olives do not like drought, and neither does their owner.


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