OLIVE PRODUCTION SYSTEMS AND MECHANIZATION
The productivity of the traditional olive orchards (80 to 100 trees/ha) is relatively low and the crop costs are very high (harvesting, pruning, etc.). Since the 1970s, the increase of the olive surface has been associated to an intensification of the orchards and several authors recommend to use higher densities (HD), about 200-500 trees/ha, with drip irrigation, designed for harvesting with trunk shakers, and with higher yields and low-medium production costs. Finally, at the beginning of the 1990s, a new type of olive orchards (super-high density hedgerow, SHD) appeared in Catalonia (NE of Spain), with densities ranging between 1,500 and 2,500 trees/ha. Later they were introduced into other Spanish regions and other countries. This system facilitates the use of continuous mechanical straddle harvesters and the achievement of higher yields within a few years after planting. To improve the efficiency of the harvester, vigour must be managed to limit tree size while main-taining high productivity. However, there are few cultivars adapted to this system and currently Arbequina IRTA-i18®, Arbosana i43 and Koroneiki i38 are the most used in this type of super-high density orchards. A comparative study on the economic viability of high and super-high density olive orchards in Spain, indicate that HD economic ratios are more profitable than the SHD ratios. However, the latter could be the most sustainable option in large orchards with short term investments, mainly due to the full harvest mechanization and reduced labor requirements.
Tous, J. (2011). OLIVE PRODUCTION SYSTEMS AND MECHANIZATION. Acta Hortic. 924, 169-184
planting systems, cultivars, yields, mechanical harvesting, economic profitability