In 2014, we embarked on an aggressive program to rejuvenate 1100 of the older trees in our grove. We coppiced these trees at about 1m above the ground to stimulate new, fruit bearing wood at the site of each cut. Doing this will help to enhance fruit quality, increase the yield per tree and aid mechanical harvesting.
We have had a dramatic recovery of the coppiced trees. Within 12 months the trunks had substantial regrowth with new branches well over a metre long.
At the beginning of 2016 we began hand pruning the trees. We are now well on the way to having our trees pruned into the ideal shape of an inverted umbrella: 3m – 4m in diameter and about 4m in height.
By the end of 2017, our rejuvenation program was completed – and the whole grove is now back into production for the 2018 harvest season. Our trees now have the ideal structure for sunlight and airflow to aid in the production of high quality fruit for pressing as extra virgin olive oil.
Coppicing so many trees produced a large amount of wood. Moving the wood out of the grove and stacking it in windrows to dry was such a large job that we enlisted three generations of the family to help out.
Because it is so dense, Olive wood is a good, carbon neutral energy source that we are now burning to heat our house and hot water using our wet-back log burner.
3 years after coppicing our trees, we still have a substantial amount of cut firewood that is going to last us for many years to come.