Olives from Tree to Harvest – Part 1

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Olives from Tree to Harvest – Part 1

Holy symbol of abundance, the olive tree had its origins 20–40 million years ago in the Oligocene (now corresponding to Italy and the eastern Mediterranean Basin) as found fossils indicate. This tree is now one of the most grown in our region, bringing forth the best quality oil packed with a myriad of health benefits. In this series, we tackle olive tree cultivation from growing conditions to types and pests all the way to harvest and oil extraction.

Olive Trees in Lebanon

The preliminary results of the olive map in Lebanon showed that there are 450 square kilometers of areas planted with olive trees, which are located in two main regions: the north and the south. This means about 45 thousand hectares, at a rate of 300 trees per hectare, which is equivalent to 13.5 million trees.
The comprehensive survey conducted by FAO in 1998 indicated that there are 209.6 thousand dunums of olive trees in the North Lebanon region, concentrated in Koura (54.9 thousand dunums), Akkar (76.3 thousand dunums) and Zgharta (45.9 thousand dunums), while in Nabatieh there are 116.12 thousand Dunums planted with olives, of which 29 thousand are in Hasbaya, 31 thousand in Marjeyoun, 26 thousand in Bint Jbeil, and 29.1 thousand in Nabatiyeh.

Olive trees

• Evergreen
• The age of the leaf from 3-4 years
• Roots: spread horizontally for a distance of 12 meters from the trunk and deepen to a distance of 6 meters
• Flowers: The flowers bear fruit in clusters of 8-25 flowers per cluster and are pollinated by the wind

Climatic requirements

• It is grown in areas whose altitude does not exceed 800 meters
The appropriate temperature during the growth period: 12-22 degrees Celsius (flowering buds grow 14-15, when flowers open 18-20, and 21-22 nodes).
• Olives bear winter frosts up to minus 5 degrees
• The growth of the olive tree stops at a temperature of 38
• The olive tree needs 400 mm of precipitation

Soil requirements

• It is one of the trees with few requirements and prefers sandy, clay or calcareous soils
• It should have good drainage and ventilation to avoid exposure to fungal diseases

Olive Tree Cultivation

• Traditional Agriculture (7*7) (8*8) (9*9)
High intensive cultivation (3 m * 2 m)
Olives can be planted in the fall in areas with mild winters and during the spring in areas with cold winters

Maryse Bou Zeid


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