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Ana Morales-Sillero, Pilar Rallo, María Rocío Jiménez, Laura Casanova and María Paz Suárez

At a time of increasing demand, the extremely high cost of manual labor required to harvest fruit in table olive groves is limiting the economic survival of the crop in many producing countries. New grove designs and management practices such as superhigh-density (SHD) groves now in use in oil olive production should be explored as an option to facilitate mechanical harvesting in table olives. The feasibility of two table olive cultivars, Manzanilla de Sevilla and Manzanilla Cacereña, to be harvested in a 5-year-old SHD grove (1975 trees/ha) was studied in 2012 when trees of both cultivars formed highly productive continuous hedgerows (≈10,000 and 18,000 kg·ha−1, respectively). The differences between manual and mechanical harvesting using a grape straddle harvester were evaluated taking into consideration harvesting time, efficiency in fruit removal, and fruit quality both before and after processing as Spanish-style green olives. The average harvest time per hectare with a grape straddle harvester was less than 1.7 hours compared with 576 person/hour or more when done manually. Fruit removal efficiency was high in both cases, 98% for mechanical treatment and 100% for hand treatment. Mechanically harvested fruits had a high proportion of bruising damage (greater than 90%) and the severity of the damage was greater in ‘Manzanilla de Sevilla’ than in ‘Manzanilla Cacereña’. After Spanish-style green processing, however, the proportion of bruised fruits was below 3% in each cultivar. The fruit size in both cultivars was suitable for table olive processing and only 7% and 4% of ‘Manzanilla de Sevilla’ and ‘Manzanilla Cacereña’ fruits, respectively, were diverted to oil extraction as a result of insufficient size. Small differences were found between processed ‘Manzanilla Cacereña’ fruits that were manually or mechanically harvested. In contrast, mechanically harvested ‘Manzanilla de Sevilla’ fruits showed a significantly higher proportion of cutting (18%), a type of damage that may take place during harvesting, and lower firmness and texture than those harvested manually.

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Ana Morales-Sillero, María Paz Suárez, María Rocío Jiménez, Laura Casanova, José Ordovás and Pilar Rallo

The germination of seeds and the growth of the generated plant are two phases of great importance in an olive breeding program. In this work, three stratification treatments and five cultivars (Hojiblanca, Manzanilla Cacereña, Manzanilla de Sevilla, Toffahi, and Uovo di Piccione) used as female parents in a breeding program for table olive were evaluated along two years to improve germination protocols. The stratification treatments affected seed germination (percent seeds with radicle), radicle length, seedling emergence (percent emerged hypocotyls), and the average time of emergence. The cultivars have shown great variability with respect to the requirements of the seeds and seedling growth performance. None of the treatments with heat application (25 °C) after chill (14 °C) improved the percentage of germinated seeds and seedling emergence in any year compared with the control treatment (30 days at 14 °C). Cultivars such as Manzanilla de Sevilla and Toffahi seem to be a good choice of female progenitors to improve emergence rates and to obtain early vigorous progenies, a character that has been related to a shorter juvenile period of the seedlings. Moreover, in these progenies, a clear lower apical dominance was found from the first stages of seedling growth. The olive fruit and seed traits were also influenced by the female parent. In fact, ‘Hojiblanca’ and ‘Uovo di Piccione’ showed a higher number of empty seed fruits and double seed fruits compared with the other studied cultivars.