`Less Watering Improves Olive Oil Quality, Study Finds - Olive Oil Times

Less Watering Improves Olive Oil Quality, Study Finds

Apr. 3, 2012
Charlie Higgins

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A study devel­oped by the ACEVIN Research Group at Spain’s Universidad de Extremadura (UEx), in con­junc­tion with Finca La Orden, has observed a cor­re­la­tion between reduced irri­ga­tion and olive oil qual­ity.

According to the study, reduc­ing water for irri­ga­tion by 25 per­cent to 90 per­cent resulted in a loss of pro­duc­tion (mea­sured in total weight of har­vested olives) of 36 per­cent to 50 per­cent respec­tively. However, higher qual­ity oils were obtained from olives that received less water.

Despite decreases in olive vol­ume, the oil yield obtained was higher in deficit treat­ments, par­tially off­set­ting the loss of crops,” said UEx researcher Michael Concepcion.

The researchers found that oils obtained from olives that received less water had higher con­cen­tra­tions of phe­no­lic com­pounds, which pro­vide valu­able health ben­e­fits. These olives had higher con­cen­tra­tions of cer­tain color-inten­si­fy­ing pig­ments as well, a char­ac­ter­is­tic com­monly asso­ci­ated with olive oil qual­ity. The extra vir­gin oils obtained from these olives were more bit­ter, sta­ble and color inten­sive than those that were more heav­ily irri­gated, the study con­cluded.


Restrictive irri­ga­tion treat­ments allowed for increases in the para­me­ters that define oil qual­ity, such that all sam­ples taken attained a grade of extra vir­gin,” the UEx said.

Funded by the National Research Institute for Agriculture and Food Technology, the study was con­ducted in order to bet­ter under­stand the influ­ence of irri­ga­tion water man­age­ment on the com­po­si­tion and qual­ity of olive oil.

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