Olive Tree Losing Leaves - Advice


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Help please …..
I’ve got a mature olive tree, planted in the ground, which is shedding a worrying amount of leaves (see photos). It is producing new ones at the tips. I don’t believe it’s diseased but I don’t know if I’m under-watering or rain water isn’t draining away. Any advice please?
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I am not sure of the fungi but the third picture definitely shows a fungal leaf spot infection.
 

NigelJ

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I wouldn't worry too much it looks healthy, it's producing new leaves. Probably related to recent weather conditions, even on evergreens leaves only last about a year, so if it's had the leaves over winter that could be a reason.
I would let the ground dry out between waterings or after rain.
Have you had it there long? Or is it a recent acquisition.
Look at where they grow well (Southern Europe) and try to give it similar conditions.
 
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Thanks for your response. I bought it 18 months ago and planted it in the ground straight away. It’s gone through 2 winters ok and last summer was full of leaves. It has had leaves through winter; mild but not many frosts and no snow.
Perhaps I should not treat it yet and see how it is in a month or two of warmer weather?
 
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Another problem and possibly the cause of the fungus is the lack of pruning on the tree. As some point in the near past someone topped the tree, they cut all of the major branches but did not prune the new growth that this heavy pruning caused. The tree is stressed, which allows for infections to begin and weakens the tree. I would prune away about 50% of all that new growth. I would also try to kill the infection with what ever is used there for such infections. I would also call a certified arborist for a consult.
 
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?? A tree with that sized trunk was bought and planted 18 months ago? They are not fast growers already and winter slows them, so would you be suprised at a delayed transplant shock? I would think a great deal of root was damaged moving a tree of that size, if I read the post correctly? I would treat for fungi. Identify the fungi and see if there is a systemic solution.
 
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?? A tree with that sized trunk was bought and planted 18 months ago? They are not fast growers already and winter slows them, so would you be suprised at a delayed transplant shock? I would think a great deal of root was damaged moving a tree of that size, if I read the post correctly? I would treat for fungi. Identify the fungi and see if there is a systemic solution.
That's kinda what I thought at first but then I have seen LARGE containerized trees planted but the transplant shock was more or less immediate. What gets me is topping an olive tree like that. If the tree was planted 18 months ago then the grower topped it to facilitate moving it. IMO that tree is at least a minimum of 5 years old and probably a lot older than that. And look at the pruning paint. It is barely worn at all and all those multitudes of new growth look to be about 18 months old. But what ever happened that poor tree, it is going to need severe pruning and shaping and a lot of TLC for years to come.
 
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Thanks. I bought the tree from a local garden centre pretty much same size as it is now. The pruning and pruning paint all done by the suppliers (I think they buy them in bulk from Spain). I transplanted it from the supplied plastic tub into the ground thinking I was doing the right thing! Perhaps I did damage young roots and perhaps it’s suffered shock in the process? Obviously I tried to be careful as it was a mature tree and pretty darn expensive.
Got the point about pruning and care for years to come. Thanks
 
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Thanks. I bought the tree from a local garden centre pretty much same size as it is now. The pruning and pruning paint all done by the suppliers (I think they buy them in bulk from Spain). I transplanted it from the supplied plastic tub into the ground thinking I was doing the right thing! Perhaps I did damage young roots and perhaps it’s suffered shock in the process? Obviously I tried to be careful as it was a mature tree and pretty darn expensive.
Got the point about pruning and care for years to come. Thanks
I really don't think you damaged the roots in any meaningful way because of the amount of new growth. If you had damaged the roots one side of the tree would be noticeably thinner. Now is the time to start thinning out a lot of that new growth and you do NOT need to use pruning paint. Once you prune this will "force" the tree to leaf out and the sooner it leafs out the better. But still take care of the fungal issue as it will also affect the new leaves.
 
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Thanks Chuck. I’ll prune it tomorrow. Can you recommend a product to tackle the fungus?
No, I can't as I don't know what is available there. I would say a bordeaux mixture but I think it has been banned. I would talk to an arborist or knowledgeable nurseryman. As far a pruning goes do not remove more than about 30% of the limbs this year. I would start by removing all horizontal and downward growing limbs first, then inward growing limbs. Then next year start removing the chosen upward growing limbs not to exceed about 30%. This would be a reduction of about 60% of the limbs you now see and leave about 40% as scaffolding limbs. On the third year you will start thinning, not pruning, small individual limbs to actually shape the tree into your desired shape.
 

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