Determining Reproductive Parameters, which Contribute to Variation in Yield of Olive Trees from Different Cultivars, Irrigation Regimes, Age and Location

Tahel Wechsler, Ortal Bakhshian, Chaim Engelen, Arnon Dag, Giora Ben-Ari, Alon Samach*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Olive (Olea europaea L.) trees can reach a very old age and still bear fruit. Although traditional groves are planted at low density and are rainfed, many newer groves are planted at higher densities and irrigated. As expected, initial yields per area are larger in high density plantations, yet some farmers claim they experience a reduction in productivity with grove age, even in well maintained trees. In order to test the accuracy of this claim and its underlying cause, we measured several productivity parameters in selected branches of trees in seven sites differing in cultivar (‘Barnea’ or ‘Souri’), location and irrigation regime (rainfed or irrigated) for two consecutive years. For each site (cultivar/location/regime), we compared neighboring groves of different ages, altogether 14 groves. There was no consistent reduction in productivity in older groves. Differences in productivity between irrigated cultivars were mostly due to variation in the percentage of inflorescences that formed fruit. Several parameters were higher in irrigated, compared to rainfed ‘Souri’. Differences in productivity between years within the same grove was mostly due to variation in the percentage of nodes forming inflorescences. We studied the expression of OeFT2 encoding a FLOWERING LOCUS T protein involved in olive flower induction in leaves of trees of different ages, including juvenile seedlings. Expression increased during winter in mature trees and correlated with the percentage of inflorescences formed. The leaves of juvenile seedlings expressed higher levels of two genes encoding APETALA2-like proteins, potential inhibitors of OeFT2 expression. The buds of juvenile seedlings expressed higher levels of OeTFL1, encoding a TERMINAL FLOWER 1 protein, a potential inhibitor of OeFT2 function in the meristem. Our results suggest that olives, once past the juvenile phase, can retain a similar level of productivity even in densely planted well maintained groves.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number2414
JournalPlants
Volume11
Issue number18
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.

Keywords

  • Olea europaea
  • age
  • flowering
  • fruit production
  • fruit set
  • juvenility
  • olive oil
  • rainfed

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