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Antònia Ninot, Agustí Romero, Joan Tous, and Ignasi Batlle

The aim of this work was to evaluate the effect of ethephon (2-chloroethylphosponic acid), applied either alone or in combination with phosphorus compounds, on olive trees (Olea europaea L.) to improve the efficiency of mechanical harvesting. The trial was carried out in mature ‘Arbequina’ olive trees located in northeast Spain during the 2007 and 2008 olive crop seasons. In 2007, the olive trees were sprayed with 300 or 500 mg·L−1 of ethephon combined with two phosphoric formulations: monopotassium phosphate (MKP), at 15 g·L−1 or 30 g·L−1 and monoammonium phosphate at 15 g·L−1. In 2008 olive trees were sprayed with two ethephon concentrations (150 or 300 mg·L−1) in combination with 15 g·L−1 or 30 g·L−1 MKP or alone. Harvesting was performed with a commercial trunk shaker. Data were analyzed as a randomized complete block design with eight replications. Fruit removal force (FRF), ripeness index, fruit weight, natural drop, shaking efficiency (SE), leaf drop (LD), oil content, and bloom intensity of the next year’s bloom were measured. The trial treatments did not significantly affect ripeness index or oil content. Ethephon reduced FRF and increased shaking efficiency with significant differences. P compounds did not seem to affect FRF and LD. Small amounts of ethephon (150 mg·L−1) caused a large degree of fruit loosening (a 77% reduction in FRF at 11 days), which was sufficient to improve the efficiency of mechanical harvesting with minimal leaf drop.

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Mercè Rovira, Juan Francisco Hermoso, and Agustí J. Romero

Eleven hazelnut (Corylus avellana) cultivars, four Spanish (Clon La Masó, Negret N-9, Negret Primerenc, and Pauetet), four Italian (San Giovanni, Tonda Italiana, Tonda di Giffoni, and Tonda Romana), and three cultivars from Oregon State University’s (OSU) breeding program (Clark, Lewis, and Willamette), were evaluated in northeastern Spain over a period of 15 years (2001–14). The trial was planted at the Institute of Agriculture and Food Research and Technology (IRTA)-Mas de Bover Station (Constantí, Spain) in 2001, using own-rooted material, in single-trunk, 6 × 3.5-m spacing, and fitted with drip irrigation. Tree vigor, sucker production, early bearing, and total crop were recorded during the first 9 years. Nut traits were studied over 7 years and nutritional composition analyzed in 3 years. The best agronomic performance was observed in ‘San Giovanni’, ‘Pauetet’, ‘Clon La Masó’, and ‘Tonda Italiana’ that scored the highest total crop and canopy volume, but ‘San Giovanni’ and ‘Clon La Masó’ produced a high number of suckers. The best industrial value of the kernel was given by ‘Tonda di Giffoni’, ‘Negret N-9’, ‘Willamette’, and ‘Clark’ with high roasting aptitude and high fat content, although ‘Negret N-9’ was a little poor in monounsaturated fatty acids. The three cultivars from the Oregon breeding program had good agronomic behavior and industrial potential, but were not an improvement on the traditional Mediterranean cultivars.

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Joan Tous, Agustí Romero, Juan F. Hermoso, Antònia Ninot, Joan Plana, and Ignasi Batlle

The carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua) shows interesting prospects for some coastal Mediterranean growing areas and is widely used for industrial, agricultural, and ornamental purposes. It can be an alternative crop adapted to part-time farming and can also be used to regenerate vegetation in areas with a mild climate and erosion problems. Four Spanish carob cultivars were examined (Banya de Cabra, Duraio, Matalafera, and Rojal) to determine the one that performed the best for planting new orchards in northeastern Spain (Catalonia). The trees in this rain-fed trial (average rainfall of 500 mm) were planted in 1986 using seedling rootstocks that were budded in 1987. The trees were trained using the free-vase system and were spaced 8 × 9 m (138 trees/ha including 12% pollinators). The results showed that ‘Rojal’ was the earliest bearing cultivar. However, no significant differences were observed for cumulative pod production 18 years after budding. With respect to cumulative seed yield, ‘Duraio’ had the highest production (95 kg/tree). The lowest tree vigor (trunk cross-section) was observed in ‘Matalafera’. ‘Rojal’ trees produced the largest pods (average fruit weight of 18.9 g) and lowest seed content (11.8%), while ‘Banya de Cabra’ and ‘Duraio’ produced the smallest fruit (weighing 15.3 and 16.2 g, respectively) with the highest seed content (15.2% and 17.3%, respectively). Gum content, expressed as a percentage of the dry weight, was highest in ‘Duraio’ (56.9%) and was lowest in ‘Rojal’ (54.1%). Thus, in terms of kernel and pod production, ‘Duraio’ appeared to be the best-performing female cultivar for planting new carob orchards.

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Josep Rufat, Agustí J. Romero-Aroca, Amadeu Arbonés, Josep M. Villar, Juan F. Hermoso, and Miquel Pascual

This study describes the effects of mechanical harvesting and irrigation on quality in ‘Arbequina’ olive oil (Olea europaea L.). Irrigation treatments included a control, deficit irrigation (DI) during pit hardening, and subsurface deficit irrigation (SDI). Results showed that mechanical harvesting damaged the olives and reduced olive oil quality by increasing free fatty acids (FFAs) and peroxide value, and by decreasing fruitiness, stability, bitterness, and pungency. DI resulted in increased fruit dry weight and oil content, which could be explained by their reduced crop load (9.3% of crop reduction for DI and 23.9% for SDI). DI did not affect olive oil characteristics, whereas SDI increased stability, fruitiness, and bitterness, and decreased polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFAs). In conclusion, mechanical harvesting tended to damage the fruit, resulting in lower quality olive oil, the DI strategy neither affected fruit nor olive oil characteristics, whereas the SDI strategy positively affected oil quality when greater water restrictions were applied.