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Olivapedia: Intensive Groves

Feb. 19, 2013
Olivarama

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How are inten­sive olive groves dif­fer­ent to the super-inten­sive?

Intensive and super-inten­sive olive groves are dif­fer­ent to the so-called tra­di­tional plan­ta­tions because of their high plan­ta­tion den­sity. In other words, they are dis­tin­guished by the high num­ber of olive trees that coex­ist on the same hectare of soil, as well as the dis­tri­b­u­tion of the trees, which are planted with just one foot in the soft soil and gen­er­ally equipped with a water­ing sys­tem. Another dif­fer­ence is that, com­pared to the con­ven­tional crops, they offer the pos­si­bil­ity of entirely mech­a­niz­ing the har­vest, thus mak­ing it pos­si­ble to obtain higher pro­duc­tion yields.

The inten­sive plan­ta­tions are made up of iso­lated olive groves, with crowns that grow in the shape of a glass, and they have a plan­ta­tion den­sity of between 200 and 600 trees per hectare. The plan­ta­tion frame is of at least 6 meters, and the esti­mated use­ful life of this crop type is of over 40 years.

For their part, the super-inten­sive olive groves — also known as the hedgerow olive grove sys­tem because of their char­ac­ter­is­tic lin­ear dis­tri­b­u­tion — are char­ac­ter­ized by hav­ing a plan­ta­tion den­sity of between 1,000 and 2,000 trees per hectare, which are har­vested with machines along nar­row aisles of about 1.5 meters. In this case, the use­ful life of these plan­ta­tions is posi­tioned at between 12 and 14 years, on aver­age.

This lat­ter plan­ta­tion type par­tic­u­larly adapts to those olive tree vari­etals that are less vig­or­ous, mean­ing trees that enter into pro­duc­tion ear­li­est and with a lesser ten­dency to sprout side branches tend to be selected. Among these, the most used is the Arbequina, although oth­ers such as the Arbosana or Koroneiki are becom­ing ever more appre­ci­ated.

What are the minor­ity com­po­nents of olive oil?

Virgin olive oil, or in other words, the juice squeezed from the olive is a nat­ural food­stuff made up of two clearly dif­fer­en­ti­ated frac­tions. On the one hand, 98 per­cent of their com­po­si­tion cor­re­sponds to the liposol­u­ble part, formed by var­i­ous fatty acids among which oleic acid stands out for its ele­vated pres­ence. On the other, the remain­ing 2 per­cent of the com­po­si­tion is rep­re­sented by a hydrosol­u­ble part which is, pre­cisely, what houses the minor­ity com­po­nents.

To date, sci­en­tists have suc­ceeded in pin­point­ing over 230 of these com­po­nents. Many of them are of the phe­no­lic type and are dis­tin­guished by their antiox­i­dant prop­er­ties, such as those proven to con­tain squa­lene, the sim­ple phe­nols (hydro­tox­i­tirosol and tyrosol), the sec­oiri­doids (oleu­ropein), the lig­nans (ace­toxy-pinoresinol and pinoresinol), the flavonoids, the pig­ments (chloro­phylls and pheo­phytins), beta-carotene, alpha-toco­pherol or the Vitamins A and E.

As research has pro­gressed in this field, the syn­ergy pro­duced between the effects of the oleic acid and the afore­men­tioned minor­ity com­pounds has been seen to exert a pro­tec­tive and pre­ven­tive effect against the devel­op­ment of cer­tain tumours, such as breast or colon can­cer. In the same way, its effi­cacy in reduc­ing the risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar and var­i­ous degen­er­a­tive dis­eases has also been demon­strated.

The pres­ence of these com­po­nents is a dif­fer­en­tial and exclu­sive fact of the vir­gin olive oil. The rest of the veg­etable fats lack them.

Olivarama arti­cles are pre­sented in their entirety and are unedited by the Olive Oil Times.

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