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Are Your Olive Trees at Risk for Disease?

Are Your Olive Trees at Risk for DiseasePeople not native to the Pacific Northwest are often surprised to hear how well olive trees do in our climate. Actually, olive trees can not only survive but downright thrive in a huge variety of conditions. Native to the Mediterranean, olive trees are accustomed to the infertile soil that is common there. Cold winters and hot summers, as are typical of the Pacific Northwest, are ideal conditions for growing olive trees. Because it can handle many different climates and conditions, many homeowners are choosing to plant olive trees on their property.

There are many benefits that go along with this wonderful tree; not the least of which is a steady supply of olives. Including olives in your diet has been shown through studies to have a number of health benefits; they are also a versatile and delicious ingredient when cooking.

With all of these benefits, growing olive trees is an excellent choice if you live in the Oregon or Washington area. However, as with any other tree you may grow, there is a possibility of disease which can harm or even kill your olive tree. Preventing the loss of your trees requires care and maintenance as well as education. Regular checkups from a tree pruning service will also help to extend the life of your olive tree. This article will help you take steps to protect your tree from disease and assess your risk level.

What diseases can threaten the olive tree?
There are a number of diseases that affect olive trees in particular. The first step in prevention is learning how to identify the different problems that may occur; diseases in trees can be caused by fungi, bacteria, insect attacks and several other factors. The prevention and treatment of your tree’s particular ailment will depend on its cause. Next, we’ll attempt to identify some of the most common diseases and the steps you can take to prevent them or treat them.

Olive knot
Olive knot will appear as swollen spots on the tree branches. It is caused by bacteria entering vulnerable areas such as cracks caused by freezing or the wounds left by pruning. More than simply leaving the tree unsightly, olive knot can actually interfere with the transport of nutrients throughout the circulatory system of the tree, ultimately starving and killing the branches. In younger, more vulnerable trees, olive knot can actually kill the entire tree if left untreated. When dealing with olive knot, prevention is the most important step you can take, as the disease is difficult to control once it has taken hold. Wrapping your trees in winter to prevent cracking, and disinfecting your shears whenever you are pruning are excellent steps to take to protect your olive tree. You can also ask your local tree service about a copper-based, antibacterial compound which you can place on problem areas. If you do decide to go this route, never use a copper treatment before harvesting your olives.

Peacock spot
Peacock spot, also known as olive leaf spot or bird’s eye spot, is caused by a fungus. How susceptible your tree is will depend on the cultivar, but peacock spot has been known to affect olive trees all over the world. You can identify this disease by the distinctive sooty blotches that occur on the leaves; these may be surrounded by a yellow halo. As the fungus takes hold, it can begin to choke the leaves of your tree and ultimately lead to defoliation. If too many leaves are lost, this can significantly reduce the yield of your tree during harvest time. The disease is usually spread by rainfall, so olive trees that grow in wetter climates are more at risk. If you discover that your olive tree has begun to develop the signs of peacock spot, you may need to call a tree service to apply a treatment over the leaves as well as the tree itself. You will also want to take care if you are growing multiple trees; fungi can easily spread from one tree to the next and leave you with multiple afflicted olive trees. You can also apply preventative treatments, which should be done around October before the yearly rains.

Crown and Root Rot
Crown and root rot is caused by organisms, similar to fungi, who live in and are transmitted through the soil. The disease thrives in wet soil, which is already not ideal for growing olive trees. Sometimes, the symptoms of crown and root rot can be mistaken for the problems caused by poor soil drainage. A professional tree service can help you discover if your problem is truly crown and root rot or if it is simply caused by poor drainage.  As this debilitating disease takes hold, it will cause the growth of the tree to become stunted and may cause the loss of leaves. Left untreated, this disease can ultimately kill your olive tree. Prevention is fairly simple; you simply need to make sure that your soil is well drained. Poorly drained soil is unhealthy for olive trees as it is, but more so in the presence of the spores that cause crown and root rot.

Further prevention
There are a variety of steps you should be taking to protect your olive trees from disease. Regular inspections by a professional tree service can go a long way towards preventing diseases before they begin and, if necessary, treating them. Call a company such as Mr. Tree, and they will send a trained arborist to thoroughly check your tree for any signs of disease, and, if necessary, apply any treatments that may be needed. They can also make other recommendations that will be beneficial to the health of your olive trees, including helping you set up a regular pruning schedule and ensuring that the soil is well drained. Choosing a reliable tree service to trust with your tree care is essential towards prolonging the life of your tree and ensuring that your olive harvests are always bountiful.