Preliminary Evaluation of 29 Olive (Olea europaea L.) Cultivars for Production and Alternate Bearing, in the Huasco Valley, Northern Chile
There is increasing interest in the development of intensively managed olive orchards (Olea europaea L.) in northern Chile. The selection of specific varieties that perform well on a particular site is considered crucial to maximizing productivity. The present study was undertaken to evaluate the productive performance of 29 varieties of olive in the Huasco Valley (28°34’ S, 70°47’ W), Northern Chile.The traits evaluated were: mean olive production per tree considering a longitudinal (PML) analysis over a period of five years, 2003 to 2007, total olive production in the same period (PA03-07) and alternate bearing index (ABI). The effect of variety was highly significant (p < 0.01) for all traits. In the field trial, IAP was moderate (0.52), with PML 37.7 kg tree-1 and PA-0307 186 kg tree-1. Spearman correlation coefficients between rankings of each trait were positive and significantly different from zero (p < 0.05). ’Leccino’ performed best based on fruit production alone. ’Arbequina’, ’Picholine’, ’Manzanilla Racimo’, ’Picual’, ’Manzanilla de Sevilla’, ’Frantoio’ and ’Ascolana Huasco’ evidenced both high productivity and the lowest alternate bearing. These cultivars could be recommended in Huasco if a farmer is seeking to recover establishment costs rapidly, but we emphasize that a longer-term longitudinal study should be carried out before large-scale deployment.