Prune me hard, fertilize me well, if not, leave me for another...?
Well there is a lot to be said about pruning. And there are a whole lot of opinions on doing it right. I posted a picture of our tree and my greek Olive farmer friend said: "No you should only remove 10% of the tree.." I don't think there is a right or wrong way. All the factors like age, cultivar, crop load, soil fertility, availability of water make a difference on how to prune. As a general rule: the better you are at it, the stronger the vegetative response of the plant will be. Pruning is an art, my ladies...
Proper pruning makes all the difference and it is actually what makes farming so unpredictable and fun! I however do not take the risk to fully DIY and always hire some pruning professionals. This is actually the only work I outsource. But that doesn't mean sitting down and relaxing. Actually removing all the branches from the ground and putting them in the shredder is a lot of work and saving me some outsourcing costs.
Pruning is necessary to renew fruiting surface, getting better yields, keep growth of the fruiting shoots, maintain the skeleton structure, tree size, improve sunlight penetration, air circulation, removing dead wood, control pests, diseases and many more reasons. With pruning you can rejuvenate old & abandoned trees as well. Plus the way you prune makes the type of harvest you have possible.
Time of Pruning?
Most farmers around here prune straight after harvest since it is easier to do everything in one go. For removing new shoots at the trunk this is the case because it makes getting the olive nets or machines around the trunk a lot easier. But I choose pruning after frost and before bud break as my best time. Since doing so, I see the yield and amount of olives increasing.
What we do with the branches?
We keep some of the leaves and dry them to use for olive leaf tea, especially the young sprouts are good for this. The big branches we keep for decoration, woord carving and having wood for our smoker. The other parts we cannot use we put in the shredder. Be careful not to put deceased leafs & branches (suck as peacock spot ) in the shredder if you are using it for composting purposes.