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Olives FAQ

In our Hamilton garden are some 'Olive Manzanillo' trees about 7 years old, 5 to 6 metres high, flourishing, but have never flowered or fruited (that is, not even one).
We have the original 'Incredible Edibles' label which claims the tree to be 'self-pollinating'.
Do you have any ideas, please?
Or did you have a 'bad batch' of these plants, and if so, are you now able to offer a replacement, guaranteed fruiting tree, please?

Oh what a dilemma you have. Manzanillo as with most Olives is self pollinating as the label states. Unfortunately for pollination to occur you must first have flowers and this by the sounds of it is where your problem lies as from your email they have not even flowered.
We have looked on the net for help and see that getting too hot or too cold can inhibit the formation of flowers. I am not sure if this could apply to you or not. For us to come up with more reasons for not flowering we need more information;
- Are your plants watered regularly or not?
- Are they feed and what and when.
- What situation is your plant in? Sheltered, hot and dry, wet and windy etc etc?
- What are your lowest temperatures and what are your highest temperatures.

And a followup question
Thanks for the reply, Fiona. They would have been bought about 1998-1999.
Watering : is usually whatever rain falls. Hamilton would be a mild average for NZ -- more frosts than Tauranga though.
They are not usually fed - they may get a scatter of NPK lawn fertiliser, & some lawn clippings.
They do get a lot of westerly wind when it blows hard - usually at least one or twice a month.
Maybe 5 to 10 light frosts per year.
Rarely above 30degrees C.
They are on a loose fill soil, free draining into the adjacent gulley, and near the edge of a lawn.
They are big trees @ 6 metres or so. I have trimmed the odd metre or 2 off them. They are part of the same age & size of native tree shelterbelt area which spreads down the gulley. They are kept moist by a variety of garden plants growing under & around them.

Any thing you have told me doesn’t set of any alarm bells.
I have done another search on the web and came across this website www.elliotts.co.nz/jeffelliott.htm, very interesting. Please note that it is aimed at commercial growers but there are points we can take from it. Firstly making sure the trees get regular water, if the trees get too dry they can not pick up any nutrients.
Secondly Potassium and phosphate are vital for bud and fruit set. Calcium is also needed by olives. If the ph is too low these nutrients are not available to the plant to uptake. Looking at the plant and that it is growing well is not a good indication.
Addition of a cup of lime around the base of the tree will help bring up the ph. You will properly need to repeat this. If you wish to go that step more get the soil tested.


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