An Alternative Method to Managing Olive Orchards: The Coppiced System

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  • 1 Istituto sulla Propagazione delle Specie Legnose, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Via Ponte di Formicola 76, 50018 Scandicci (FI), Italy.
  • | 2 Dipartimento di Coltivazione e Difesa delle Specie Legnose, Sezione Coltivazioni Arboree, Università di Pisa, Via del Borghetto 80, 56124 Pisa, Italy. To whom reprint requests should be addressed.
  • | 3 Centro Sperimentale Ortofrutticoltura Maremma Toscana, 58022 Follonica (GR), Italy.

An alternative method to managing olive (Olea europaea L.) orchards for oil production is described. Using the coppiced system, the orchard is divided into 10 plots and all trees in one plot are coppiced year 1, all trees in a second plot are coppiced year 2, etc. In this way, the olive orchard consists of 10 different-aged plots after 10 years. Then a new cycle is started by coppicing trees in plot 1 in year 11, those in plot 2 in year 12, and so on. Since hardly any pruning is done after coppicing, the main advantages of this innovative management method are to reduce labor costs and the need for skillful labor, without negative effects on fruit yield, oil yield, or alternate bearing. Pesticide application, weed control, and fertilization were performed according to standard commercial practice. As a result, this system is more convenient than other training systems used for olive trees, it is suitable for renewing old trees, and can be adopted under many cultural conditions. The coppiced management system is compatible with soils of low fertility and is sustainable for long-term olive oil production.

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