Sunday, May 27, 2007

Olive Cultivars - Australia

Olive Cultivars in Australia, with Frantoio as an example of the depth of explanation:

"The following list is by no means a comprehensive guide to all olive cultivars available in Australia. However, it does cover all those cultivars which have been proven in Australian, and in many cases international, trials. Many other cultivars are currently under trial in Australia, however, their commercial viability is not yet known. For information on other available cultivars, please contact Australis Plants.


Other names - (Also grown in Australia under the name Paragon) Frantoiano, Correggiola, Correggiolo, Razzo, Gentile (These five are considered to be of the same 'family' or 'varietal population' as Frantoio due to their extremely similar biological and organoleptic characteristics and their traditional region in central Italy. The Frantoio grown by Olives Australia have been DNA tested and match the Frantoio grown in Tuscany, Italy. Please see Issue 10 of the Australian Olive Grower journal.

General - Fruit is small in size, ripens late in the season, and has a very high oil content. The flesh to pit ratio is average. Frantoio produces regular heavy crops. Although the tree has medium to high vigour, the mature tree is generally low at about 8 metres. Frantoio is said to be the benchmark for olive oil in Italy. The cultivar has an expansive crown and long pendulous fruiting branches. It is generally said to be self fertilising however a number of growers use pollinators.

Climatic Considerations - Presently, Frantoio is grown mainly in the Tuscany region of central Italy. However, it has proven itself to be extremely adaptable to diverse and harsh climatic conditions in other areas while still giving an excellent crop. It is very resistant to extremes in cold. In fact, we saw a number of Frantoio orchards under up to 600mm of snow during December 1995. The snow only remained on the trees for two days which did not damage the actual biological structure of the leaves and bark; however, due to the weight of the snow, a number of primary branches were damaged which will reduce the crop in the following season. It should be noted though, that any fruit which was still left on the trees during these days of snow was damaged by the cold and would produce a poorer quality oil. Many Frantoio were planted in Tuscany in the mid eighties to replace trees which were killed during the 1985 freeze.

Commercial Viability - Gives an excellent quality oil in great quantities. The fresh oil is generally quite strong/bitter and is therefore used widely as a blending oil to increase the flavour of less distinct cultivars. Its excellent balance of acids allows the oil to be kept for up to two years. Frantoio is the most productive cultivar in central Italy. A single Australian test has shown that the acidity of oil taken from Correggiola increases as the season progresses. If further trials show this to be true, it can be easily overcome by picking the fruit during the first two months of the harvesting period rather than later in the season.

Pests and Disease - Sensitive to peacock spot (Cycloconium oleaginum or Spilocaea oleaginea).

Pollinators - A number of Italian growers say that planting an occasional Pendulina cultivar may increase crops by up to 10%. If a grower chooses to plant Pendulina for cross-pollination, 5-10% of the total orchard's trees as Pendulina is sufficient.