How to Choose Olive Trees

olives on tree

How to Choose Olive Trees With Some Important Details

You can see it all now -- it's a sunny day and you're sitting at a wooden table in your olive grove, eating olives and crusty bread, and drinking wine with your friends and family. You grew and cured those olives yourself. The question is -- WHICH olives? Which olive trees will get prized positions in your olive grove? It's like growing any other edible -- grow the flavors you like to eat. You may already have favorite olives, or perhaps you're from the school of All Olives Taste Great. If you have a chance, stop by your local deli or olive bar and do some sampling to point you in the right direction.

Key Steps for Determining Your Best Variety of Olive

  1. Determine your USDA hardiness zone then choose your zone number in the sidebar under USDA Zone.
  2. Olives can be used for either eating (Table), for oil production, or both, eating and oil. Remember olives must be cured before eating. You can watch Tricia show you how to cure olives using the lactic fermentation method, or Greek-style brined olives.

Here Are A Few Suggestions Based on Climate

The following is a list of suggested varieties based on "cold", moderate or mild climates:

"Cold" Climates

Regions where temperature can fall as low as 18°F and snow may fall occasionally. The selected varieties can withstand short periods of cold, but keep in mind, these are well established trees and they are not actively growing.

  • Frantoio
  • Leccino
  • Arbequina
  • Pendolino
  • Sevillano

Moderate Climates

Regions are where minimum temperatures are usually between 25-27°F, and rarely drops below 21°F. This is typical of the world's olive growing areas.

  • Most varieties sold in the US

Warm Climates

Regions where the winter temperatures rarely fall below 28 to 32°F. Any warmer, the trees do not receive the winter chill required for dormancy.

  • Kalamata
  • Manzanillo
  • Arbequina
  • Koroneki

Not all olives are listed here, only varieties that have well documented information. Every tree has suggested USDA zones, and that should be the guideline. Olive trees can be grown in a pot for several years and brought indoors during cold winters. There are also microclimates within zones and if you live in a "banana belt" in your cold climate zone, olives may survive. The first few years is the most critical to get your olive established and happy.

So if you like olives or want to try your hand at pressing your own oil, plant an olive!

We have many types of olive trees for sale!

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8 comments

May, Olives can take 2-5 years to start producing olives. The only problem is that we cannot ship olives to Florida, but you might be able to find them at a local nursery. I researched and found these were listed as the best varieties to grow in Florida, Koroneiki, Arbequina, Frantoio, Lecciana, Arbosana, or Little Ollie® Dwarf.

Suzanne

At almost 80, living in the Fl panhandle, we were devastated by a Cat 5 hurricane which denuded our acre of oaks and pines, removed our dense shade. I have worked 4 years trying to grow things, and plant trees not tall enough to kill us. We can grow citrus here, figs, papayas are iffy but my two look well we are in zone 8b. What olive would fruit here before I die? I don’t intend to for years. My 30 yo old tangerines and oranges are amazing. I grew them from pits. Thank you.

May

Don, olives start ripening in September and can ripen through November, it just depends on the variety you have and also what stage you want to pick. The color will indicate the level of ripeness. Green is the least ripe, a rosy color is ripe and black is the most ripe. We do not sell the Sevillano olive but there is lots of information on the web. It is a Spanish olive and so it the Manzanilla.

Suzanne

Can you indicate month olives can be harvested. Earliest when green to fully ripe.

Second: Manzanillo vs Sevillano How are they different?

Don

Steve, the olives are not grafted.

Suzanne

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