Olive genotypes cultivated in an adult high-density orchard respond differently to canopy restraining by mechanical and manual pruning.
Three-year observations about the canopy restraining of 15 olive cultivars trained according to the high-density system were made in order to supply up-to-date information about the varietal behavior for adult orchards of this new cropping system. The mechanical pruning started at the end of the 6th year from planting and it was repeated for the following two years. Cultivar vigour affected pruning biomass and olive yield. Canonical discriminant analysis was performed to identify differences among cultivars. Medium-low vigour cultivars (Spanish and Greek) can be successfully controlled by mechanical and manual prunings without compromising their yield; instead, medium-high vigour cultivars (traditional and new Italian) require mechanical prunings to control canopy size, but this operation can hardly compromise their yield level and constancy. Further investigations are required to understand the right width of hedging to reach the correct equilibrium between vegetative and reproductive activity in adult orchards. At the moment, the correct varietal choice remains the only way to ensure the agronomical and economic sustainability of the high-density cropping systems, waiting for new results from breeding programs.