The article “When and How to Prune Olive Trees” was written by Teo Spengler of Gardening Know How. and reviewed and republished by FreshFruitPortal.com.
The purpose of cutting down olive trees is to open most of the tree to the sun. Parts of the tree in the shade do not bear fruit. If you cut down the olive trees so that the sun gets in the middle, it will improve the yield.
Read about how to prune olive trees and the best time to prune olive trees.
When to prune olive trees
Do not start pruning olive trees in the first or second year. Do not touch the pruner to the branches of the tree until the olive tree is at least four years old.
Encourage the formation of foliage in these early years and leave it alone. The leaves of the tree produce food, so the many leaves when the tree is young provide good energy for growth.
How to prune olive trees
When it’s time to shape your wood, keep in mind that it’s better to make a few well-placed cuts than to cut a lot of small ones. A cutter and a jigsaw must be used for these cuts.
Pruning with an open center or frame is very common in olive trees. This type of pruning removes the central branches of the tree so that sunlight can penetrate the tree. Open pruning also increases the surface area of the tree.
After removing the central branches and forming a solid structure of the tree, any further pruning is for maintenance.
At this point, cutting down the olive trees only means removing any growth that begins to fill the center of the tree.
You can also reduce the height of the tree by pruning the tallest branches. This is often important when pruning olive trees in containers. Use a thinning cut, not a head cut, as the latter stimulates new high growth.
Thinning cuts mean cutting out something, while header cuts — also known as top cuts — mean cutting something. It is usually advisable to use thinning cuts when mowing the olive tree.
If you have a very tall, very old olive tree, you may need to prune drastically to be fertile again.
Keep in mind that the new growth will grow right above the place of cutting, so you need to cut the tree hard enough at a height of four or five feet (1 or 2 meters). It is best to divide the process into three years.
On the other hand, if it is used more as an ornamental plant, it is better to leave it tall and beautiful.
Best time for pruning
If you are wondering when to prune olive trees, it is between the end of winter and flowering. Olive trees can be pruned in the spring or early summer after the tree begins to open from its flower buds. Pruning the olive tree during flowering allows you to assess the expected yield before cutting.
Always wait for the shear to end winter rains as pruning opens entry points for water-borne diseases. This is extremely important if the olive bunch is a problem in your area. An olive tree is more vulnerable to frost damage after it is cut down, which is another argument in favor of waiting until spring.