The Q&A Archives: Olive Trees

Question: I manage a condominium complex with many olive trees throughout. In the spring, the landscaper said that he sprayed the trees so that they would not produce olives. Well, needless to say, there are olives all over the place, which has created an unwanted mess. The landscaper said that when he sprayed the trees in the spring, some olives were already formed and were not affected by the spraying. The spraying would only work on the new flowers on the trees. I don't buy his story. Can you please give me information on preventing olive trees from baring olives. As much information as you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

Answer: It's true that there's a chemical you can spray on the trees while they're in flower that will prevent fruit from forming. Timing is everything - if blossoms open after the treatment, they will produce olives. Here's another way to stop the trees from producing fruit: Olive trees can withstand heavy pruning. By selectively thinning out the fruiting branches each year you can minimize the crop of olives that the tree produces. Carefully inspect your tree and you will be able to determine which branches will flower and bear fruit. They are the smallest, newest branches on the tree. Remove these small branches by cutting them back to the limbs that form the structure of the tree. You'll end up with a picturesque specimen tree without the messy fruit drop.

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