After a long and laborious birth, from September a new olive tree, Oliana, will be on sale that is said to deliver earlier entry into production and higher yield per hectare than Arbequina and Arbosana, the varieties it was bred from.
Designed for super-intensive plantations, it is the fruit of a genetic improvement programme which began at Barcelona-based high-tech nursery Agromillora about 15 years ago.
After crossing Arbequina and Arbosana, two of the most common varieties in super-intensive production, 290 genotypes were initially obtained, of which 85 were evaluated in the field over four seasons and 20 then selected for evaluation in different part of the world, including Italy, Tunisia. Chile and the United States (Gridley, Calif.) over six years of plantation.
Four of the most promising were then further evaluated before Oliana was chosen based on its early entry into production, high productivity, suitability for farming mechanization and the organoleptic qualities of its olive oil.
Expected to be popular with growers, consumers
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According to Agromillora’s Olint publication, Oliana’s olive oil is a sweet, balanced one that in tasting tests averaged scores of 4 in terms of fruitiness, 2.5 in bitterness and 3 in pungency — factors making it “well adapted to the high consumption market.”
It is a low vigor, compact plant, which implies lower pruning costs and suitability for high density plantation — up to 3,000 trees a hectare — and has medium tolerance to olive leaf spot. Its resistance to verticillium wilt is yet to be determined but Olint said that in one plantation in an infected area the incidence of the disease in Oliana was low.
An Agromillora spokesman told Olive Oil Times that early stocks of the plant that went on sale 18 months ago soon sold out but more will go on sale in September. Agromillora expects Oliana to be very popular and “within a few years to become the benchmark in olive cultivation.”