- Author: Therese Kapaun
- Author: Elizabeth Fichtner
Lindcove REC has a small block of mature Manzanilla and Sevillano olive trees. In past years the trees have been used for olive fruit fly research and mechanical harvester field trials, but now are currently being used by Dr. Carol Lovatt, Professor of Botany and Plant Sciences at UC Riverside, and Dr. Elizabeth Fichtner, UCCE Farm Advisor in Tulare County. Their research is investigating the physiological mechanism underlying alternate bearing in olive with the goal of utilizing plant growth regulator treatments for mitigation of alternate bearing.
The alternate bearing cycle in table olive results in a heavy crop one year followed by a light crop the next year. Alternate bearing is disadvantageous to growers and processors because it affects the total annual yield of the crop and the average fruit size. The first goal of the project is to better understand the nature and timing of fruit’s inhibition of vegetative shoot growth and return bloom in olive. To achieve this goal, the research team collects olive shoots throughout the season and excises buds in the laboratory for analysis of expression of floral genes, natural plant growth regulator production, and visualization of floral and vegetative bud development. Understanding the timing of floral bud development in olive will allow growers to effectively time plant growth regulator treatments on mature trees to counteract or eliminate the alternate bearing cycle.