Submitted to: Journal of American Pomological Society
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 19, 2004
Publication Date: October 22, 2004
Citation: Malik, N.S., Bradford, J.M. 2004. Genetic diversity and clonel variation among olive varieties offer promise for selecting cultivars for Texas. Fruit Varieties Journal. 58:203-209. Interpretive Summary: Researchers at Texas A&M University discouraged cultivating olives in Texas based on their theoretical interpretation of climatic data from olive-growing countries; they never conducted any actual experiments. Growers, however, are strongly interested in cultivating olives in Texas because olive treees are tolerant to low water and fertilizer inputs and there is still a vast land available for cultivation in the Texas Valley. USDA has decided to help growers investigate the possibilities of growing olives in Texas on a commercial scale. As a start, a survey was conducted on various olive groves within Texas to study if any varieties or any trees within a variety grown during the last 5-6 years have shown adaptation to local climates. The primary phenotypes of interest selected for the survey were the ability of trees to flower under mild winters of the Texas Valley. Our survey identified two trees that showed extraordinary adaptability to mild winter temperatures. One of the trees produced flowers even in the Weslaco area that the earlier researcher designated as an area where olives can only grow vegetatively. This remarkable adaptability was detected in trees from among a very limted population of trees, and therefore, offers a great hope for possible development of olive cultivars suitable to Texas conditions. Clones from these trees are now being produced and will be tested at various locations during the next few years. In addition, more trees from climates similar to Texas will be imported and evaluated in the coming years.