Why is the ground around Olive trees kept bare ?

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AndyLucyOne
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Why is the ground around Olive trees kept bare ?

Postby AndyLucyOne » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:15 am

Why is the ground around Olive trees in groves kept absolutely bare ? I understand that nets are used for harvesting, so the olives themselves do not need to be swept up from clean soil (?). Isnt there increased soil erosion in heavy rains with the bare soil ? Couldnt a second low-growing crop (of something) be cultivated in-between the trees ?

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Enrique
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Re: Why is the ground around Olive trees kept bare ?

Postby Enrique » Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:15 am

Hi AndyLuckyOne,
Welcome to The Forum.................. :D

"Why is the ground around Olive trees in groves kept absolutely bare ?"

So that any rain that falls soaks into the ground under the trees, you may have missed the stage where the trees shed their old leaves, these are blown away just before the first rains......like now.
With clear ground under trees its easier to pick up the olives that have fallen from the trees before the harvest gets going. These are give a lower grade Suelo. Those collected in the nets Vuelo and get top grade.
If we ever have a wet winter like 2009 then all the olives where picked up of the ground....... :(
Up this way the locals either plough the complete Parcela (just smoothing under the trees) or grow grass between the trees leaving the drip circles.
As this used to be a big wheat area before the olives arrived some with wide spaced trees still grow that crop.

I'm a grass between the trees man........hence Beni's 20 shades of green Post.

Other areas may do it differently..........Olive will be along with more info.
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Re: Why is the ground around Olive trees kept bare ?

Postby olive » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:24 pm

As Enrique says-

So that any rain falling soaks into the ground and I would add doesn't get consumed by weeds

To facilitate the collection of the fallen olives.

There is a further nicety, It makes for easier laying of the nets and less chance of snagging them on weeds.

I have noticed year on year that the groves around us have become devoid of any vegetation for most of the year. At the moment there are billions of seedling weeds but they will be exterminated by a further spraying some weeks before harvesting is due. What has also happened is that refuges for animals and plants have reduced. The familiar piles of stones gathered in the off season to improve the land have been cleared and one of more olive trees planted. The other sad thing is that although we are supposed to leave the margins between the grove and say a road, the margins themselves are much diminished.

I generally find the groves quite sterile (my word) for wildlife. I do see rabbits, hares, partridge and small birds, the occasional snake. I would swear there isn't as much as ten years ago. That might be reduction in habitat or the damned hunters.

As with managing trees, there are different views on managing the land. Some till the surface whilst others leave it glass smooth and compacted. When it rains heavily the water just runs off the latter whereas the former it takes the soil with it. Tilling would be great if you can guarantee gentle rain. One good process is to do a single ploughing with say a mole plough across the gradient periodically. That does slow the runoff down and allows it to percolate into the ground.

Second crop? Well you visit the land with machinery and sprays that often it would have to be quick growing. Everyone around here has a small plot of broad beans each year on the plot ( rotated of course) and they do well without irrigation and are in the correct window to avoid being driven over.

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Enrique
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Re: Why is the ground around Olive trees kept bare ?

Postby Enrique » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:34 pm

"Some till the surface whilst others leave it glass smooth and compacted. When it rains heavily the water just runs off "

That seems to work as the guy above me does this and I don't get any mud when it rains hard/heavy......Tormenta
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Re: Why is the ground around Olive trees kept bare ?

Postby Gasman » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:34 pm

Another point for working the ground round the olive trees is to disturb the grubs that may have escaped into the ground from fallen olives. Also round here the groves are systematically ploughed all round the edges, particularly on road-sides or forest-sides as a fire break. There are still some which leave a ground cover but most of the industrial-sized groves seem to prefer the bare earth policy.

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Flexo
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Re: Why is the ground around Olive trees kept bare ?

Postby Flexo » Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:24 pm

Modern intenso uses full fertigation in the drip lines, that is 100% of the fertilizers needed that are injected with the water, so there is no need for a healthy, living soil in the area from a production standpoint. By eliminating the all plants in between the lines they make it easier to control weeds (they often drive a tractor to weed).

There are plenty of other good reasons for NOT doing this way tho, but the spaniards are not being thought this at school because the farmer is often only interested in the actual profit this year and not soil erosion and loss of soil quality over time.

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Re: Why is the ground around Olive trees kept bare ?

Postby AndyLucyOne » Fri Nov 17, 2017 2:13 am

Thank you for the discussion.
I just look at all that soil doing nothing and wonder that there must be something that could productively grow there (I know not what). I like the idea of legumes, a crop that would put nitrogen into the soil, and annual crops that could be turned into the soil to enrich it after cropping. Didn't like the idea of all that spraying. Are there olive groves that manage organically ?

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Re: Why is the ground around Olive trees kept bare ?

Postby olive » Fri Nov 17, 2017 9:41 am

Yes but the yield is much lower. There are two groves of identical trees planted the same time near us. One managed ( in a loose) sense organically and the other normal intensive spray and kill everything. The difference in production is staggering. Eco olives do fetch a better price but you have hoops to jump through.

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Re: Why is the ground around Olive trees kept bare ?

Postby maureenscot » Fri Nov 17, 2017 1:40 pm

During the bad years Spanish and Italians grew tomatoes etc under the olive trees and hid them from their 'masters'

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Re: Why is the ground around Olive trees kept bare ?

Postby Flexo » Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:09 pm

Done correctly and with biological control you can get a decent production without pesticides, the problem is you need to know what you are doing and you have to accept a lower yield. It is not for beginners and you need to employ consultants to help you out.

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Re: Why is the ground around Olive trees kept bare ?

Postby Gasman » Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:34 pm

A usual crop to improve the land under the olives is broad beans (habas in spanish), planted in october and harvested in spring (or left to keel over and get rotavated into the ground) - usually done in patches to rotate around the grove ... this is done in smaller private plots, rather than the big industrial acreages.
The beans are excellent picked young and used raw in salads, or a little older and boiled as a veg, or boiled lightly, then the outer layer split and the inner bean squeezed out and mixed with a little mayonnaise - nice - OR left to go big, brown and hard and dried to keep over winter (this is the more spanish method) then soaked overnight and used in stews and casseroles instead of chickpeas.


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