Flowering is a key moment between the stages an olive tree spends in its annual cycle. It constitutes an explosion of life, all an investment in energy with which the olive tree, like any other plant of sexual reproduction, offers an important sample of flowers with the objective of being fertilized to a great extent and thus becoming new fruits or olives. offspring that ensure not only their survival as a species, but also their genetic diversity.
Nature endowed the botanical family of the Oleaceae with small flowers grouped in bunches in the form of a panicle, that is, a central axis on which the small flowers meet even on ramifications of that central axis. Some of these flowers are hermaphroditic, that is, they have both sexes manifested and could give rise to a new fruit, while others only produce pollen, that is, they would be like male flowers.
The flowering is now visible, from mid-May and its duration does not come to spend more than a week, although logically since the first flower is opened until the last in the same olive tree can spend a longer time, up to 3 weeks.
During that time the pollen that is poured into the atmosphere is very high in comparison to other plants, with air and chance being responsible for the encounter between a grain of pollen and the stigma of a female flower, moment to from which the process of fertilization is triggered, that is, a new embryo or seed will be formed that will later be enveloped by the fruit or olive that would initiate its growth.
We call the flowers the “plot”, about the outbreaks that the olive tree emitted the previous year, and only very rarely about the outbreak of the same year.
Truly the flowering in the olive trees encloses its little secrets. Among them, the most surprising is knowing that pollen grains can travel up to hundreds of kilometers to fertilize a flower in another olive tree. They can even cross the Mediterranean, and it is normal that olive pollen in Morocco can fertilize olive trees in the sub-Betica of Cordoba or vice versa.
Another curiosity is that the pollen practically never fecunda the flowers of the same olive tree or of other next ones if they are of the same variety, need therefore to cross themselves, in this way the variability of the offspring is assured, a common mechanism between the plants and that some so we interspersed other olive varieties.
And what is less known about flowering are the mechanisms that trigger it since it is not something automatic that is repeated every year with the same intensity, but depends on what the tree has experienced during the previous year in terms of presence of water in the soil, nutrients, temperatures, etc. A balance not very well known and that only the olive tree knows how to express. The olive tree “decides” in definite its intensity of flowering.
In any case, it will be very few flowers that reach their final goal goal, become an olive. Perhaps only 2% of those that appeared at the beginning achieve it, but in any case they will be enough to give us an adequate amount of green gold each year.
The flowering we see it culminated, when its flowers are detached from their petals, when they have already been fertilized, being therefore the beginning of a new fruit or olive. This process is called fruit set, followed immediately after a natural fall of part of these new fruits and leaving the olive that will be able to feed later.
This “sieve” that the olive tree does only leaves half of the newly set fruit without detaching and ensures the balance that all plants must ensure between their survival and reproduction.
From that moment and from the month of June until its complete maturation in November, the fruit will go through two stages of development: rapid growth and accumulation of reserves, two stages perfectly separated by a key moment, the hardening of the bone that will arrive approximately in the month of July.