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Arnon Dag, Ran Erel, Alon Ben-Gal, Isaac Zipori, and Uri Yermiyahu

The global production of olives (Olea europaea L.) has increased rapidly over the last decade as a result of the expansion of orchards with high tree densities. Most olives are propagated from rooted cuttings. The present study evaluated the propagation rate of rooted cuttings as a function of the nutritional status of the stock trees. Rooting ability was evaluated for cuttings taken from container-grown stock plants exposed to eight concentrations of nitrogen (N) (ranging from 0.4 to 14.1 mm), seven concentrations of phosphorus (P) (ranging from 0.01 to 0.62 mm), and five concentrations of potassium (K) (ranging from 0.25 to 5.33 mm). Increases in N level negatively affected rooting rate and cutting survival. Propagation success was increased threefold as N in irrigation water was reduced from the highest to the lowest treatments. Enhanced root development under low N concentrations resulted in higher root weight compared with the high N concentrations. The high concentration of N fertilization negatively affected the propagation rate but was not reflected in N concentration of diagnostic leaves. There was, however, a significant negative correlation between N in twigs and propagation rate. Regarding response to K concentration, no effect was found on rooting rate or cutting survival. Except for reduced rooting at the lowest concentration, P had a negligible effect on rooting rate. The experimental results indicate the need to avoid overfertilization of olive stock trees with N to promote successful propagation.

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Ran Erel, Arnon Dag, Alon Ben-Gal, Amnon Schwartz, and Uri Yermiyahu

The independent effects of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium concentrations in the irrigation solution on flowering and fruit set in olive trees (Olea europaea L. cv. Barnea) were studied in a container experiment. Treatments included eight levels of N ranging from 0.4 to 14.1 mm, seven levels of P ranging from 0.01 to 0.62 mm, and seven levels of K ranging from 0.25 to 5.33 mm. At low environmental concentrations of each of the minerals, additions led to large increases in their concentrations in leaves, and as the environmental concentrations became high, relative increases in leaf accumulation were reduced. Availability of N, P, and K was found to influence flowering intensity in the olive trees. Fruit set was affected by N and P, but not K levels. Total fruit load of olives was shown to be a function of flowering level multiplied by fruit set. The final number of olives per tree increased appreciably as leaf P and K increased from minimum levels, and relative increases in fruit load tapered at the highest measured leaf concentrations of the minerals. Maximum fruit load was found corresponding to ≈0.06 mol·kg−1 P and close to 0.35 mol·kg−1 K in leaves. Fruit load increased to a maximum as leaf N increased from 0.7 to 1.3 mol·kg−1 and then decreased as leaf N increased to 1.5 mol·kg−1. The findings indicate that each of the macronutrients plays a fundamental role in processes affecting olive tree productivity.