Plant diseases

Olive tree diseases and their treatment

The olive tree is a tree traditionally cultivated within the hottest areas of Europe, which has a highly valued fruit because olive oil comes from it, highly appreciated and even indispensable in the Mediterranean diet and in kitchens.

It is possible that olive tree diseases cause its yield to be significantly reduced, regardless of whether it is the traditional olive grove, the intensive or the super-intensive, which poses a risk to the life of the tree when it reaches its most severe stages. That is why in this article we are going to talk about the main diseases that affect the olive tree and how to treat them.

Repilo

It stands out for being possibly the most severe disease that an olive tree can present. It causes premature defoliation of the tree, which directly affects its production and makes it weak, in addition to causing injuries to its leaves, and in some cases, it even affects the fruits and their stems or peduncles.

In this case, fungicidal treatments are usually the only ones that offer an effective result in order to keep the repilo under control, although carrying out selective pruning, removing diseased leaves and applying fertilizers without nitrogen, reduce the risk of infection, since in case of developing this disease, it would not become very severe.

Gills or tumors of the neck

It is a disease caused by Agrobacterium tumefaciens, a bacteria that usually affects younger trees. To avoid it, it is essential to ensure that the olive tree does not have wounds, since this disease is usually spread in this way by allowing the bacteria to infect and attack the olive tree.

Most of the treatments used to combat this bacterium are not usually effective, so it is best to prevent the tree from being infected by keeping it in optimal condition and avoiding any possible injury.

When the olive tree is already very infected, it is best to pull it up.

Olive tree prays

It consists of a pest that is very well synchronized with the olive tree, since it feeds on it for three generations per year: antófaga, carpófaga and fífaga. Throughout these generations or stages, this pest feeds on the leaves, flowers and fruit of the tree.

There are several insecticidal treatments that help keep the olive moth under control, however, the ally for those farmers who must combat the Prays are usually the high summer temperatures.

Olive verticillosis

It is a disease caused by the presence of a soil fungus, which has a really complicated treatment. Nowadays, it is necessary to use very resistant varieties and/ or rootstocks in order to replant those olive groves that are infected.

The oldest leaves tend to deform and wilt taking a yellowish tone and then fall, since despite originating in the root, this fungus advances through the tree, stunting it until it reaches its branches, leaving them weak and dry. Treatment for verticillosis consists of hiring specialists who carry out biological control, such as: biofumigation, which is the application of fresh organic matter, which when decomposed, attacks microorganisms.

In addition, certain treatments such as solarization must be applied, which is basically using plastics to cover the ground, and allow it to obtain a certain temperature, light and humidity.

Xylella fastidiosa

It consists of a bacterium that has an immense pathogenic potential, it is naturally transmitted between plants due to the action carried out by multiple insects, which act as vectors of the disease, so the control of Xylella fastidiosa is usually extremely complex.

Although there are currently no real treatments to combat this bacterium, it is known that certain Italian olive varieties support the presence of Xylella Fastidiosa.

Lead disease

It is possible to ensure that the olive tree presents this disease, when it has yellow and brown spots with irregular shapes. This is a not very recognized disease, which in many cases is confused with the repilo, although in this case a gray color and a silver tone can be seen on the back of the leaves.

Its main treatment is usually the use of fungicides, however, some measures such as the use of fertilizers without a high nitrogen content, selective pruning and the elimination of diseased leaves, allow reducing not only the incidence of lead disease, but also also its severity.

Soapy olive

It is a disease that causes the appearance of circular brown spots in the lower part of the fruit of the olive tree, which is caused by the presence of a fungus known as Colletotrichum.

These spots expel an orange and gelatinous liquid that causes the fruit to rot and fall from the tree or remain mummified in it. It is equally possible that it affects the branches, causing them to dry out and not give new shoots.

Its treatment consists of applying copper sulfate solutions preventively only when it is a risk area. Likewise, cupric sulfates should be applied during autumn and winter, since in these times the humidity and temperature are usually conducive to their proliferation.

It is also necessary to carry out burning and sweeping of those parts of the tree that fell to the ground, in order to prevent the fungus from remaining dormant.

Olive fly

It is known to be one of the pests that most frequently affect this type of trees, regardless of whether they are traditional olive trees, intensively cultivated and/ or super intensive.

At the time of applying the treatments, it is necessary to take into account that certain varieties of olive tree tend to be much more sensitive to the attack of this pest.

The use of traps in these trees is a very effective method to control the first generations of this pest, likewise, it is necessary to apply copper treatment especially in those areas where higher humidity usually accumulates and in which they are less aerated. However, it is essential not to abuse copper because it could also kill other fungi that are useful for the life of the olive tree.

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