This article talks about how to reduce olive fruit production in the low desert.
Full disclosure here-I’m an arborist not a chemist so this article may be light on multi-syllabic words and heavy on “field knowledge.”
The first thing we need to talk about is the fact that Olive Trees need to be thinned out prior to spray application. Whenever we have sprayed Olives that weren’t thinned out the effectiveness of the application has been seriously compromised. The chemical just can’t reach all of the blossoms, and wherever blossoms survive the spray there will eventually be olives. So thin the trees out before spraying so that you don’t have olive oil all over your sidewalk AND a bill for having them sprayed.
Once the trees are thinned out there is the choice of which chemicals to use. While there are others to choose from, such as Florel, we at Clean Cut use Maintain almost exclusively as we find it to be much more effective than other options. Maintain is a more powerful chemical and can usually get the job done in one application. Being able to accomplish our goal in one application equals less cost for the client, which naturally makes our clients happy. Maintain does have a major drawback though: it can cause the trees to decline at a fast rate, especially if applied incorrectly. Most of our customers are so sick of the olives on the ground that they just don’t care about the overall health of the tree anymore. Maintain is also a harsh chemical, so personal protective measures must be taken and the area kept clear of children, pets, and other breathing things for a period of time after spraying.
If you are OK with multiple applications of chemical there are some other options that you may want to consider. Embark and Olive Stop are generally better for the tree and for people as well. These chemicals are less dangerous and of course not as effective as Maintain, but then it seems that everything is a trade off in life. The other problem with these types of chemicals is the fact that they may need to be applied 2-3 times. Pretty soon the math is leaning toward removing the tree when the cost of annually thinning and thrice spraying an olive tree is calculated. The majority of our clients just prefer Maintain but it’s good to be aware of other options anyway.
The third option is to become an expert at curing olives and passing out jars of olives during the holidays. The process for curing olives involves salt water to draw out the bitterness and preserve the fruit. Were I to have unlimited free time on my hands that is what I would do. I’ve only met one person who went to all the trouble to cure his own olives and I was pretty impressed that someone could take a fruit that causes so much headache all over the Valley and turn it into something as great as edible olives.