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Title: Feasibility of growing olives on selected sites along coastal Texas

item Malik, Nasir

Submitted to: Journal of Agricultural Science and Technology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/19/2010
Publication Date: 2/15/2011
Citation: Malik, N.S. 2011. Feasibility of growing olives on selected sites along coastal Texas. Journal of American Pomological Society. 5:139-146.

Interpretive Summary: Historically, olives have not been grown in Texas, and earlier researchers concluded that there is no suitable site in Texas where olives could be grown productively. This conclusion was based on the assumption that optimal chilling temperatures required for flowering in olives range from 1.7- 4.4°C and such temperatures are rarely met in southern and coastal Texas. A few years ago, however, Malik and associates observed that extensive flowering and fruiting in ‘Arbequina’ olives can be achieved at temperatures above 7.2°C. Later it was shown that the reason for absence of flowering in southern Texas was not due to lack of nighttime chilling temperatures but perhaps due to inhibiting high daytime temperatures. This hypothesis was later proved correct because flowering and fruiting in southern Texas was achieved by evaporative cooling as well as shading. Based on their findings, Malik and associates hypothesized that several sites along coastal Texas may be suitable to grow olives (at least, ‘Arbequina’ cultivar) which were previously ignored for lack of sufficient hours of optimal chilling temperatures (1.7- 4.4°C) in these areas. To test this possibility, several sites along the Texas coastline were selected for planting test plants and to study their performance. Results of four year data collected on the flowering fruiting of olive trees showed that there is a good probability that olives can be grown on coastal Texas especially from Santa Fe to Orange.

Technical Abstract: Five sites along the Texas coastline (Seadrift, Galveston, Brazoria, Santa Fe, and Orange) were evaluated for feasibility of growing olives in these areas. In addition, two non-coastal sites (Carrizo Springs and Weslaco) were also included in the study for comparative purposes. Flowering and fruit data was collected during four seasons starting from year 2005-2006 until 2008-2009 seasons. In addition to flowering and fruiting data, half-hourly temperature data was also collected at each site on every season. The results indicate that while olive can grow on all the sites tested, there is greater probability of success for commercial growing of olive between and around Santa Fe and Orange areas where large scale experiment are highly recommended for rigorous evaluation of potential for commercial production of olives in these areas.