Pruning & Training

Olive planting has expanded rapidly in several nations all over the world. The plant has been cultivated widely in many countries where it was not previously grown. Olives develop numerous foliage. It can have an enormous amount of growth within one year. With the green vegetative growth, the plant can do poorly especially in forming fruit buds.


Pruning and training of olives help to even out the production of a bumper or reduced crop. Olives are pruned and trained every year. However, the process depends on individual plants. Some can be doubled a year depending on the foliage it produces and how rapidly it develops.




Pruning and training of olives are done differently compared to pruning of other fruit trees. Poorly pruned olives can result in a bumper crop. sprouting of fruit buds will be reduced, reducing the amount of yields. In addition, higher cultivation cost can be incurred and a lot of time would to waste. 


Pruning and training results in a high crop yield. Well pruned olives develop large structure and produces rapidly. The trunk of the tree becomes active with a scaffold framework to support the plant from high winds. Strong wind causes bending and breakage of the tree limbs.

Harvesting of olives is done easily on a pruned tree. In addition, the tree can be easily sprayed to control harmful insects and pests causing diseases and slowing down their growth.


Pruning and training of young olives

The tree should be trained to a single trunk. Only three primary scaffolds are left. Spacing is done in the range of twelve to twenty-four feet above the ground, both up and down and around the olive tree. 

A lot of work is required after planting, during the first summer of growth. Suckers and shoots growing from the trunk should be cut to the ground. In addition, regular elimination should be done throughout the summer period. To suppress suckers growth, you can use impervious white paper trunk.


Pruning of the young olives follows two principles. The principles are to be balanced. First, shape the tree into a form that it will grow to maturity. Second, allow the tree to develop and build energy reserves. 

Only old trees can re-grow after being chopped due to the energy reserves in their trunk. Young olives cannot. Avoid excessive pruning. When the olive is excessively pruned, it will become weak and the young tree will have a stunted growth.

In addition, young olives are sensitive to cold. In areas of temperatures below 23 F, the trunk can be prevented from damage by wrapping an insulating covering material around it.

How to prune

All broken and dead limbs should be removed using the hand pruning shears. Damaged limbs can be supported back by the next horizontal stem. Pruning of the limbs should be up to ten to eighteen inches from the ground level. Note that, shorter olive limbs blooms poorly.

Next, select three to four main stems from the main lower trunk and cut them using a saw. They should be the ones growing vertically from the trunk.

Remove all encroaching limbs of the tree. The removal of the limbs can be done in the following years of growth. By now the tree should have several growths.

Olive tree shapes

 Pruning should be done yearly with constant shaping of the limbs into an open vase shape. However, there are two different shapes depending on your choice. The shapes include the vase glass and the Christmas tree. The idea behind the shapes of the olives is to provide a stronger shaking force during harvesting.

The most popular is the vase shape. The Christmas form is hard to manage. The vase shape provides the simplest way of hand picking and can be practiced by growers with small groves.


Olives don’t grow very rapidly. Their yearly growth is slow. The plants do not need much pruning. However, much of the pruning is done early summer or late spring. During the time, removal of diseased, dying or dead branches should be done. 


Thinning of branches should also be practiced to remove spoiled branches and allow light into the tree. Emphasis should be taken to avoid too much pruning, to lower the production of non-fruiting shoots.

Next Step: Olive Tree Orchard Management

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