Thursday, November 8, 2012

Journal November 8, 2012

When the postman arrived shortly after lunch today, he brought two additional olive trees and the olive seeds I had ordered from Greece.

Today was cold, very windy, the sky was overcast and leaden, with the temperature in the upper 30s. Despite the weather conditions, the temperature in the greenhouse was in the mid-40s, so I decided to pot the olive trees in the greenhouse. Then, to my surprise the clouds parted, and the sunshine raised the temperature in the greenhouse to a balmy 65°.

 Below are photos and information regarding the trees I received today:

Arbequina is a cultivar of olives. The fruit is highly aromatic, small, symmetrical and dark brown, with a rounded apex and a broad peduncular cavity. In Europe, it is mostly grown in Catalonia, Spain, where it occupies 55,000 hectares, but it is also grown in in Aragon and Andalusia, as well as Argentina, Chile, and Australia. It has recently become the dominant olive cultivar in California, largely under highly intensive, "super high-density" plantation.

The name comes from the village of Arbeca in the comarca of the Les Garrigues, where it was first introduced to Europe from Palestine in the seventeenth century by the Duke of Medinaceli.
Agronomical characteristics

Arbequina trees are adaptable to different conditions of climate and soil, although it does best in alkaline soils; it thrives in long, hot, dry summers, but is frost-hardy and pest-resistant. Its relatively small cup, allows it to be cultivated under more intense, high-density conditions than other plantation olives. The variety is very productive and enters early into production (from the first half of November). The fruit does not ripen simultaneously, and has an average resistance to detachment. Unlike most varieties, Arbequina has a high germination percentage and that makes rootstocks.

The crop is costly due to the small fruit size. It is not very well suited to mechanized harvesting, as a consequence of low weight of the oil and the abundance of pendulous branches, but the performance in manual harvesting is much higher than the other varieties raised in Catalonia.

Although sold as a table olive, Arbequina olives have one of the highest concentrations of oil [20-22%] and are therefore mostly used for olive oil production. Harvesting is easy since the trees are typically low to the ground and allow for easy hand picking. Oils made from Arbequina are generally buttery, fruity, and very mild in flavor, being low in polyphenols. The combination of low polyphenol levels and high levels of polyunsaturated fat as compared with other olive cultivars means that it has relatively low stability and short shelf-life.

Koroneiki is a cultivar of olives originating in Greece, the trunk is typically gnarled and twisted.
TREE: A tree of medium vigor with a spreading habit and an open canopy.
FRUIT: The fruit is small ovoid and slightly asymmetric, yields with a very high content of oil.
AGRONOMY: Resistant to leaf drop, adaptable to different conditions of climate and soil.  They are drought tolerant, frost-hardy to 14 degrees and pest-resistant.  Trees will produce olives in two years with full production in 5. A very high quality oil variety, exceptionally heavy cropper coming into production very early. Fruit size is quite small. Proving well suited to warm non frost regions.

COMMENTS: This is a good drought resistant variety. The oil is high in oleic acid and very stable, high quality oil olive. 

Both of the above trees were purchased from the Olive Grove tree farm in Florida. I had originally ordered a different variety than the Koroneiki, however, after speaking with Dedi, one of the owners, and explaining how I intended to grow the trees, Dede suggested the Koroneiki rather than the variety I originally ordered. 

Dede said she thought what I was going to do was "so cool, and she wanted me to succeed." When possible, I will try to speak to a grower, as you can get very valuable information from them. I have added a link to their site below, in case anyone is interested in trying to grow an olive tree hydroponically. These folks are great folks to do business with. 

The Olive Grove Tree Farm Nursery

Now, as for the olive seeds from Greece; the person that I purchased the seeds from was supposed to provide information as to how to germinate the seeds, however he did not.

I did not consider that the big deal, as I already knew how I intended to start the seeds. First, I soaked the seeds for about 90 minutes in hot water to soften the seed coat. Then, I rubbed the seeds on fine grit of sandpaper to thin the seed coat so that the embryo was almost exposed.  The seeds were then placed in a growing cube, and the growing cube was planted in a 3 inch pot at a depth of approximately 1 inch.

Both the seeds and the trees have been placed under a 90 W red/white/blue LED in a warm environment with a photoperiod of 16 hours per day. 

Now, it is just a matter of letting nature take its course.

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