BACKGROUND: Over the last two decades, the area of cultivated super-high-density olive orchards has increased rapidly. Water stress is an important tool in super-high-density orchards to reduce tree growth and promote suitability for overhead mechanical harvesters. Little is known regarding the effect of water stress in super-high-density orchards on oil quality parameters. In this study the effect of irrigation rate on oil quality parameters was evaluated in a six-year-old super-high-density 'Koreneiki' olive orchard for five consecutive seasons. Five water status levels, determined by irrigating in order to maintain various midday stem water potential threshold values (-1.5, -2, -2.5, -3 and -4 MPa), were applied during the oil accumulation stage. RESULTS: The MUFA/PUFA ratio and free fatty acid content generally decreased as a function of increasing tree water stress. In most seasons a reduction in polyphenols was found with decreasing irrigation level. Peroxide value was not affected by the water stress level. CONCLUSION: The present study demonstrates that limiting irrigation and exposure of olive trees to water stress in a super-high-density orchard lowers free fatty acid content and therefore benefits oil quality. However, the decreased MUFA/PUFA ratio and the reduction in polyphenol content that were also found under increased water stress negatively influence oil quality.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2014 Society of Chemical Industry.
- Fatty acid profile
- Free fatty acid
- Olive oil
- Super-high-density orchard