Fruit thinning using NAA shows potential for reducing biennial bearing of Barnea and Picual oil olive trees

Arnon Dag, Amnon Bustan, Avishai Avni, Shimon Lavee, Joseph Riov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Biennial bearing is a major horticultural and economic drawback of olive (Olea europaea L.) cultivation, which particularly affects the olive oil industry under intensive production systems. The number of fruits per tree in an on-year is a primary determinant of the biennial cycle. While fruit thinning using NAA shortly after full bloom is commonly practiced to increase fruit size in table olives, the extent of its influence on biennial bearing is unknown. In the present study, the ability of that common naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) treatment (100mg/L, 10 days after full bloom) to alleviate biennial bearing in two oil olive cultivars, Picual and Barnea, was poor, although significant influence on the number of fruit was evident solely in Barnea. Picual seemed less susceptible than Barnea to biennial bearing. Consequently, the effect of a broad range of NAA concentrations (0-320mg/L, 10 days after full bloom) on various yield parameters was investigated during a biennial cycle of Barnea trees. There was a gradual proportional decline in the on-year number of fruits from ∼50000 to 10000/tree in response to increasing NAA concentrations. The number of return fruits in the off-year was reciprocal to the on-year fruit load, but remained relatively small, below 15000/tree. The dynamic relationship between fruit load and fruit size in both on- and off-years was a significant compensation factor in fruit and oil yields. In both cultivars, an on-year fruit load smaller than 20000/tree is likely to provide consistent yearly oil yields ranging from 10 to 12kg/tree. The results demonstrate the possibility of using NAA post-bloom spraying to balance biennial bearing in oil olives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1124-1130
Number of pages7
JournalCrop and Pasture Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - 8 Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Alternate bearing
  • Fruit load
  • Fruit size
  • NAA (naphthalenacetic acid)
  • Oil content
  • Olea europaea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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