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I have a Mission Olive tree, and I've read in several places that Sevillano and Ascolano will both increase fruit set as these 3 are good cross pollinators of each other. Unfortunately I cannot find any Sevillano or Ascolano in my area, all that seems to be available locally is Arbequina, Frantoio, Manzanillo, which from what I've read are either poor cross pollinators or not compatible at all.

My question is would buying a 2nd Mission Olive increase pollination rates? Is it just a matter of a greater amount of compatible pollen available in the area or is there something about the genetics of cross compatible varieties pollinating each other that gives better results than just having multiple trees of the same type?

(I know I could order a Sevillano or Ascolano online but I've been very disappointed in my previous mail orders, most arriving near death or disappointingly smaller than advertised, so I'm focusing on local trees I can inspect and approve of prior to purchase)

5

The short answer to your question is yes. In olive trees, mostly pollination is anemophilous, that also means that environmental conditions affect pollination (Lavee, 1986; Dimassi et al, 1999.).

Is it just a matter of a greater amount of compatible pollen available in the area or is there something about the genetics of cross compatible varieties pollinating each other that gives better results than just having multiple trees of the same type?

It is much more complicated than that. For example, it is known that some self-fertile cultivars in Spain, are not in the United States (that is, among other reasons, due to weather conditions). I think that you have to keep in mind the following:

  • Fruit set is usually higher in cross-pollination than self-pollination (Rallo et al., 1990).
  • Use cultivars that bloom at the same time.
  • Use cultivars with proven results in your area.
5

This study is regarding Manzanillo but it demonstrated that a compatible cross-pollinator can increase production dramatically compared to a incompatible cultivar or even the same type. There is something to the genetics here.

http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/32/6/1056.full.pdf

I'm also looking around for an Ascolano for my Mission for this reason.

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