With spring arriving soon, Marcelo, our technical adviser for the olives, gave us our marching orders – foliar spray, herbicide, fertilizer, foliar spray (at 20 days after first application), and herbicide (at 30 days after first application). We apply the foliar spray about four times a year I’d guess – two times each season with 20 days in between. We’ve done it less because we were late, we’ve done it more because we’ve had problems. So I’m not entirely sure what’s supposed to be normal – although one a season appears to be the objective. I think.
This time I actually managed to capture examples of some of the things we spray for. The foliar spray is intended to treat multiple issues in one application. Some are preventative, like the moth caterpillars that love to eat the olives. No photos because, thank heavens, we don’t have an outbreak. We did last year. And as much as I don’t like chemicals, I really don’t want another infestation. Other things are treatments of something of the moment. Like fertilizers.
We’ve received lots of water this year. Lots of water. Olives don’t like excessive water. It’s not good for the roots in general and, depending on soil, can leach nutrients. This year all that water leached calcium from the soil and make our olive leaves turn yellow.
New leaves are a lighter shade of green than the older leaves. Frost burned leaves turn brown. Yellow leaves mean the olives are deficient in a mineral or nutrient. So this foliar application included something for the yellow leaves.
It also included something to treat the cochinilla bugs we have spreading throughout the olives. Little teeny tiny bugs that secrete an oil which turns the bark and leaves of the tree black. Here’s an example of a tree affected by cochinilla and one not:
The black does eventually wear off. But it takes a while. If the tree is still infested when the olives develop we pre-pick those trees and burn the fruit. Unfortunately the cochinilla spreads rather easily. So we are being pro-active this year and treating it in the foliar spray. Last year we had to be reactive to the infestation. This year we’re a bit more on top of it.
So the first application of the foliar spray is done. We had a brief window of dry and sunny so Dario snuck in and sprayed the trees with Alejandro and Oscar helping man the spray wands.
Now we’ll try and get the hated herbicide on when a non-windy day arrives, get some fertilizer down, and apply the second pass of the foliar spray. Realistically? If the other two things don’t happen we are still applying the second foliar spray in 20 days. It’s too important to miss, even if it means we do things a bit out of order.