Olive Orchard Establishment

Olive trees need be ordered 12 month prior to planting, from registered nurseries who are supported by the SA Olive Industry Association.


Planting distances will depend on circumstances, but traditionally trees are spaced 4 to 5 meters apart and rows are spaced 6 to 7 meters apart. Deep ripping and criss-cross delving over the entire area is assential as the trees are planted for life.

Trees are planted as follows:

A hole of about 1 cubic meter (1m X 1m X 1m) should be dug. The base of the planting bag is removed. The tree is then placed in the hole at a level slightly deeper than it is in the bag. When in position, the rest of the bag is removed. Normally the roots are left undisturbed, if they are growing around in a circle, they should be loosened lightly. Fill hole with loamy soil mixed with good compost. Use 1 cup of bonemeal (or some other source of organic phosphate) mixed in with this soil. In the Western Cape where the soils tend to be acidic, a cup of dolomitic lime can also be added to the mix. Water well. Fertilizers should not be placed in the hole at the time of planting since these could burn the roots.

Cultivar Choice

The choice of which varieties to plant is determined by the following:

  • The market demand for the specific product (olive oil or table olives)
  • The type of processed products required (black or green table olives)
  • The adaptability of the cultivar to a specific region.
  • The cross pollination requirements of the cultivars.
  • The ripening period and harvest season.
  • The availability of planting material