The olive tree, an evergreen plant, has been grown in Italy for centuries, for both its production and landscape aspects, in 72 Italian provinces out of 107. With over one million hectares of land under cultivation and more than 500 native cultivars, Italy ranks among the top oil – producing countries in the world. In Italy, the favourable weather conditions and the terrain – which is not overly compact, drained and free of stagnation – create the ideal environment for the growth of this tree.
In the past, olive groves had a low density, very rarely exceeding 200 trees per hectare. In modern olive groves, on the other hand, the density is between 300 and 600 trees per hectare. However, recent years have also seen the development of olive groves with around 1,000 trees per hectare, which favours intensive continuous-cycle harvesting.
Pruning of olive trees is a particularly costly practice and must take into account the biology of the tree: it usually takes place in late winter and spring, and increases with the age of the tree. Over-intensive pruning of young trees has a negative impact on the growth of new branches, increasing the unproductive period of the tree; unlike older or withered trees, severe pruning is needed to stimulate the renewal of fruit branches.