Olive Trees – Loaded With Blooms!

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flower buds on a olive tree in greece

Last year, the olive oil harvest in Greece was almost a total write-off, and that included my wee olive grove as well as most of the other olive groves in the local area. Many people have tried to blame the horrible year on “drought,” but that is not really true. Perhaps drought in other parts of Europe were to blame for poor olive oil harvests, but drought was not a problem in Greece. In fact, in some parts of Greece, the problem was far too much rain during the summer.

Greece had other problems including infestations of the olive fruit fly.

For many, it might be hard to believe that in Greece’s olive growing areas, it actually seldom rains between the months of May and October. While some may call this a “drought,” it is in fact not unusual and is actually typical. Olive trees rely on precipitation during the winter months, when rain and even snow is at its peak. So in this way, there was no drought in Greece during the 2023 season. Other events came into play to cause the poor harvest. In some regions, it was arson that caused many wildfires, and which affected commercial olive trees. As mentioned, the olive fruit fly also had a major effect.

So what’s in store for this year? Well, at least for my wee olive grove, things were looking pretty darn good as of May 7th. My wee olive grove has had its issues – it was abandoned for some years before I purchased it, and I never really expected a nice harvest until it had some time to recover until after a couple of years some major care given to the trees.

In addition, I purchased a small strip of land adjacent to the olive grove, had it cleared and two years ago, planted another 23 or so young olive trees.

So, how is it looking now? You can see from the photo above, that the trees are actually loaded with olive flower buds! This was such a pleasant surprise to see, but it is also with caution, as anything can happen between now and the harvest season.

Not all of the trees are this well in bloom, but the vast majority are. Of course, the younger ones have a way to go yet to grow before they will produce much of anything, but it was exciting to see the more mature trees finally giving thanks for the care that has been given to them over the past few years.

It’s been some hard work at times to get this olive grove into shape, after the state it was left being abandoned for a few years. There is still some work to be done to bring into great shape, including lots of weeding, and improving the soil. But it sure would be nice to get a wee harvest of olive oil this year.

What Can Go Wrong?

While most of the trees are looking nice and healthy, and seeing all those flower buds is exciting and promising, lots can still go wrong:

  • Too much wind could knock off the flowers before they have time to pollinate.
  • Rain at the wrong time could cause problems with olive formation and maturation. Summer drought is not the problem in Greece; but the possibility of rain and/or hail later could create problems.
  • Olive fruit fly infestations – this has often been the scourge of olive producers in Greece – what might look like a fantastic harvest to come can be destroyed by infestations of the fruit fly and passing on a disease to the olives.

There are some preventative things that can be done to minimize damage by the olive fruit fly but my understanding is that it’s never really guaranteed. This is an area that I intend to do more research in the coming weeks.

What’s Next?

This coming week, we’re heading back up to the village with the goal of delivering water to the newer younger olive trees. For the first three or four years, the young trees need supplementary watering during the summer months. About 5 or 6 litres of water per tree, every 20 days or so.

Earlier this year, we also put down tall stakes beside each of the young trees and tied them to the stakes to help direct their growth to be straight up. We did see some significant growth in the young trees, and they are much taller in height now than when we first planted them, but still need some help to grow in a straight upwardly direction.

Of course, I still have much to learn and look forward to the local knowledge of the Exarchos people who always seem so willing to help with advice and assistance. This will be an interesting year going forward, as there is much to hope for, while also realizing the reality, it all could end up a dud if things don’t go perfectly well.

Related Articles About My Olive Grove:

My Olive Grove – Cleaning Out The Weeds

Off To The Olive Grove – Spring Maintenance

Olive Grove Recovery After Brutal Winter At Exarchos

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