following list is by no means a comprehensive guide to all olive
cultivars available in Australia. However, it does cover all those
cultivars which have been proven in Australian, and in many cases
international, trials. Many other cultivars are currently
under trial in Australia, however, their commercial viability is
not yet known. For more up to date cultivar information and to order
trees, please contact Australis
Plants Olive Nursery.
General - Commonly grown in north-east of Spain. Highly sought after for its well-charactered oil. Recognised as an early cropping variety with high productivity and high oil yield. The oil has a low polyphenol level which can shorten its shelf life. Generally a low vigour tree, often used in intensive groves. Small fruit size (1.5-2gm) makes some types of mechanical harvesting difficult. May be susceptible to iron deficiency in calcareous soils. Flesh to pit ratio is 4.6:1.
Climatic Considerations - Considered a cold-resistant variety but has also been seen to crop well in warmer areas.
Viability - Not yet bearing in large Australian commercial orchards,
however small plantings are producing good crops. Internationally
considered an excellent oil olive. There are an estimated 50,000
ha of Arbequina in Spain.
Other names - Azapena and Sevillana de Azapa
General - Fruit size can vary greatly - it is medium to very large (8gms average) yielding anywhere from 60-300 olives/kg and has an elongated shape with a somewhat pronounced point on the end. Fruit is very fleshy with a thin skin. Derives its name from the Chilean valley in which it is grown, where it accounts for about 90% of the total plantings. Seems to originate from the Gordal Sevillana.
Considerations - Suitable for warmer 'no frost' regions.
Also being tested in other regions of Australia to check its tolerance
to cold and ability to adapt.
Viability - Not yet bearing in large Australian commercial orchards,
however small mature plantings are producing medium sized crops
with a slight tendency toward alternate bearing. It is the
most highly rated cultivar in Chile, South America where it
is used entirely for table fruit. Easy to pit if the caustic treatment
is done correctly. Internationally considered a good table
and Disease - No data could be sourced.
General - Originating in Israel, this tree is now being widely planted for oil in Australia and Argentina. Barnea trees are vigorous with erect growth and are planted in densities up to 400 trees/hectare. Responds well to irrigation. Considered susceptible to a number of leaf and root difficulties but experienced management can avoid this.
Commercial Viability - Potential for heavy, early cropping. Medium to high oil content. Also considered by some to be a dual-purpose variety.
Considerations - Being trialed in a number of Australian regions.
the Frantoio and the Correggiola trees grown by Olives Australia
have been DNA confirmed as matching the Frantoio and Correggiola
of Tuscany, Italy. Whilst Correggiola and Frantoio are from the
same varietal population ("family") there are some genetic
differences. To read more on this topic please see Issue 10
of the Australian Olive Grower journal.
Other names - (Also grown in Australia under the name Paragon) Frantoiano, Correggiola, Correggiolo, Razzo, Gentile (These five are considered to be of the same 'family' or 'varietal population' as Frantoio due to their extremely similar biological and organoleptic characteristics and their traditional region in central Italy. The Frantoio grown by Olives Australia have been DNA tested and match the Frantoio grown in Tuscany, Italy. Please see Issue 10 of the Australian Olive Grower journal.
General - Fruit is small in size, ripens late in the season, and has a very high oil content. The flesh to pit ratio is average. Frantoio produces regular heavy crops. Although the tree has medium to high vigour, the mature tree is generally low at about 8 metres. Frantoio is said to be the benchmark for olive oil in Italy. The cultivar has an expansive crown and long pendulous fruiting branches. It is generally said to be self fertilising however a number of growers use pollinators.
Climatic Considerations - Presently, Frantoio is grown mainly in the Tuscany region of central Italy. However, it has proven itself to be extremely adaptable to diverse and harsh climatic conditions in other areas while still giving an excellent crop. It is very resistant to extremes in cold. In fact, we saw a number of Frantoio orchards under up to 600mm of snow during December 1995. The snow only remained on the trees for two days which did not damage the actual biological structure of the leaves and bark; however, due to the weight of the snow, a number of primary branches were damaged which will reduce the crop in the following season. It should be noted though, that any fruit which was still left on the trees during these days of snow was damaged by the cold and would produce a poorer quality oil. Many Frantoio were planted in Tuscany in the mid eighties to replace trees which were killed during the 1985 freeze.
Commercial Viability - Gives an excellent quality oil in great quantities. The fresh oil is generally quite strong/bitter and is therefore used widely as a blending oil to increase the flavour of less distinct cultivars. Its excellent balance of acids allows the oil to be kept for up to two years. Frantoio is the most productive cultivar in central Italy. A single Australian test has shown that the acidity of oil taken from Correggiola increases as the season progresses. If further trials show this to be true, it can be easily overcome by picking the fruit during the first two months of the harvesting period rather than later in the season.
Pests and Disease - Sensitive to peacock spot (Cycloconium oleaginum or Spilocaea oleaginea).
- A number of Italian growers say that planting an occasional Pendulina
cultivar may increase crops by up to 10%. If a grower chooses to
plant Pendulina for cross-pollination, 5-10% of the total orchard's
trees as Pendulina is sufficient.
General - The source of this cultivar is unknown. Plantings of various sizes are currently being done in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia.
Climatic Considerations - It has been cropping well for many years on the Darling Downs in Queensland, and at Wagga Wagga and Yanco in southern New South Wales. More climatic data will be available as new plantings begin to crop.
Commercial Viability - It is a tough cultivar that bears good early season crops of large fruit very suitable for pickling. Some growers report that it is slow to establish itself in the first 12-18 months however, once established it grows very quickly. Although only one test has been done, the oil content is high.
and Disease - As yet no data is available. (NB. Some growers
find the young Hardy's Mammoth trees slow to establish in
the first year. Reasons for this are as yet unknown.)
General - This cultivar accounted for 20% of Spain's 1995 olive orchard plantings. The name means "leaf(hoji) white(blanca)" because it has a lighter coloured leaf.
Commercial Viability - A dual purpose cultivar of significance in the Spanish industry. Plantings are as follows - Córdoba = 93,000 ha Malaga = 66,000 ha Sevilla = 37,000 ha Granada = 24,000 ha.
Other names - Calamon
General - The fruit has a distinct 'bent point' at its tip. Fruit size varies from 3.0 to 5.5 grams (180-360 olives per kg) and it has an excellent flesh-to-pit ratio of 8:1. Turns a deep black colour when fully ripe. The oil content is medium/high. Leaves are distinctively large, light green and slightly 'twisted' from end to end. Kalamata grow and crop more vigorously when grafted onto a strong root stock. Due to the Kalamata's general susceptibility to harsh climatic and disease situations, grafted trees are recommended for commercial plantings.
Climatic Considerations - Originated in the region of Kalamata on the south east Peloponnese of the Greek coast. However, it has since proved its adaptability as an excellent commercial cultivar in both warm and cold areas around the world.
Commercial Viability - Famous throughout the world as an excellent table olive. The most popular, and one of the most expensive cultivars sold in Australian delicatessens. Due to its high demand and good price on the fresh fruit market, it is rarely processed for its excellent quality oil.
and Disease - Susceptible to olive fly (Dacus oleae -
not found in Australia). Generally not as hardy as other commercial
cultivars, however its possible financial returns make up for weaknesses
encountered fairly well.
Other names - Coronaiki
General - Fruit ripens early and is very small averaging only 1-2grams. Although there are many and conflicting reports on the oil percentage, it is generally accepted as being quite high and the oil quality exceptionally good. Grown extensively on the Greek island of Crete where it accounts for 85% of all olive trees planted (Approx. 130,000 hectares of Koroneiki). Also used widely on the islands of Zante and Mesenia. The April 1995 edition of Olivae magazine calls the Cretan cultivars such as Koroneiki, "among the best in the world." The above data shows it to be a very important Greek oil cultivar.
Climatic Considerations - Generally cultivated on the plains, lower hillsides and coastal areas of Crete where the climate is relatively warm.
Commercial Viability - The chemical characteristics of Koroneiki oil are excellent. Fruit yield is high and regular. This cultivar is suitable for an early, excellent quality, premium price oil. It should be noted however, that due to the small fruit size, mechanical harvesting could be difficult.
and Disease - No information could be sourced.
Other names - Leccio (Not to be mistaken for Spanish Lechino or Lechin)
General - Originated in Tuscany, Italy where it is still widely grown. Other Italian Leccino regions are Abruzos, Marcas and Campania. It is starting to spread into the warmer areas of central and southern Italy. Trees are of medium vigour and medium height. Fruit is small at 2-2.5g (400-500 olives per kilogram). Italian sources put the oil content as medium/high.
Climatic Considerations - Very resistant to cold weather. Leccino in the Tuscan hills receives snow every two to three years. We saw them under 600mm of snow in some orchards in December, 1995. Not that this is recommended for commercial plantings, however it does show their resistance to cold.
Commercial Viability - Considered by the Italians to have a fair to good quality oil but although the yield is constant it is generally less than Moraiolo and Frantoio. Some Italian growers are starting to sell the oil as a 'varietal oil', ie. no blending is done, purely oil from Leccino fruit. Due to the fruit's size and texture it is often also used as a table olive.
and Disease - Considered to be disease resistant, however some
say that this is simply because it is generally grown at high,
cold altitudes where disease does not flourish anyway. Resistant
to Peacock Spot (Cycloconium oleaginum or Spilocaea oleaginea).
Other Names - Manzanilla - Spanish Subvarieties - de Sevilla, Fina, Carrasqueña and Serrana.
General - Fruit is medium sized (4.8gms) yielding 200-280 olives/kg and has a flesh-to-pit ratio of 8.2:1. It is an oval shaped, thick skinned fruit with excellent texture. Generally light green coloured with tiny whitish dots. Mature fruit is a slightly violet black and has a medium/high oil content. The tree is generally low and spreading reaching an average of 7m at maturity if left unpruned. Spain currently has approximately 100,000 ha of Manzanillo orchards.
Climatic Considerations - Gives heaviest crops in mild climates with little frost such as Spain's Guadalquivir Valley and the province of Seville and California's Tulare, King's and Fresno counties and the southern Joacquim Valley. Manzanillo is sensitive to extended or extreme cold periods where, for example, the average July temperatures are less than 8 degrees Celsius and frosts falling below minus 5 degrees Celsius occur regularly each year. Southern hemisphere harvests generally occur between early March and late April to avoid possible early frost damage to fruit.
Commercial Viability - Generally known for its ease of processing due to its firm flesh and easiness to pit. Only 20-22% of the total fruit is removed during pitting. Accounts for 60% of the Mediterranean's green pickling fruit. 83% of California's olive orchards are currently being planted to Manzanillo. Irrigated trials carried out at Mildura (SA) which compared the growth habits and annual yields of 14 cultivars over ten years showed Manzanillo to be the heaviest cropper. It is considered the best dual purpose olive cultivar in the world. Mr Vicente Rico of Spain's Sadrym table olive machinery company has two words of advice for Australia, "Plant Manzanillo!"
Manzanillo olive oil is produced throughout the world and is very well accepted on the international olive oil market. Further research on Manzanillo oil can be obtained from Olives Australia.
Pests and Disease - Manzanillo is susceptible to olive knot (not found in Australia) and verticillium wilt.
- The occasional Sevillano is said to increase Manzanillo
crops, however heavy crops are still achieved without cross
pollination. Further research being done in California may
give additional pollination details in the future.
(See "Picual" further below)
testing has shown that contrary to many decades of common belief,
Nevadillo Blanco and Picual are actually genetically different.
However, due to Spanish research showing a large number of distinct
similarities between the two varieties which have always been
considered synonymous, the information on Picual below is
given to also include Nevadillo Blanco. Further Australian research
will be needed to identify areas in which the two varieties
show similarities or differences.
Other Names - From the Spanish olive family including Nevadillo Blanco, Nevadillo, Nevado Blanco, Blanco, Lopereno and Marteno.
General - Picual is the most common oil cultivar in Spain. The major zones are as follows (1984): Jaen = 422,000 ha (90% of total olive orchards), Cordoba = 108,000 ha, Granada = 50,000 ha. In 1995, Picual plantings took up 55% of new orchards in Spain. Both the fruit and the pit are pointed in shape. Fruit weigh from 2-4gms giving 270 to 470 olives/kg and a flesh-to-pit ratio between 3.8:1 and 6:1. Its high oil content in Jaen ranges from 23% to 27% and slightly lower in other regions (One report puts Picual's oil percentage as high as 30%). When fully ripe, the skin is shiny black and the flesh turns from a light brown to wine pink colour.
Climatic Considerations - The Spanish regions in which Picual is most common have cool to cold winters and hot dry summers. See the data for Jaen in the Appendix.
Commercial Viability - Little is known about the cropping habits of Picual in Australia. However, it was tested under the synonym of Nevadillo Blanco in the Mildura trial where it was the fourth heaviest cropper of the fourteen cultivars trialled. The only Australian oil test that we have seen was done on fruit which had been stored for five months prior to testing which made the results highly inaccurate. However, Spanish and Italian data ranges from 23% to 28%. Picual oil also has a very high polyphenolic content which gives it a long shelf life. This fact, along with other quality aspects, makes it very popular variety for blending with other oils from around the Mediterranean.
and Disease - Picual is susceptible to peacock spot (Cycloconium
oleaginum or Spilocaea oleaginea), olive fly (Dacus oleae - not
found in Australia) and olive moth (Prays oleae). It is resistant
to olive knot (not found in Australia).
Other names - Gordal, Gordal Sevillano and Sevillana.
General - Fruit is large (8-12gms) yielding 100-120 olives/kg and has a flesh-to-pit ratio of 7.3:1. Fruit is generally oval in shape with an indent at the stem which can give it an almost heart-shaped appearance. The skin is thin and speckled with white markings. The flesh is light green turning purplish-black when ripe and of good texture for pickling. The pit is regular in shape with deep grooves running from point to point. The oil content can be low and is not generally considered commercially viable for oil extraction. The trees have a spreading growth habit with mature heights when unpruned of 8 to 11 metres (25-35 ft).
Climatic Considerations - Resistant to cold and some sources say it actually needs cold to flower well. However, this does not appear to be the case in Spain where it is commercially grown in the warmer regions such as the province of Seville along side Manzanillo orchards. An IOOC publication states that Sevillano requires "mild, warm climates." Southern hemisphere harvesting of this cultivar generally occurs during April. 20,000 ha of Spain are currently planted to Sevillano.
Commercial Viability - Sevillano holds second place to Manzanillo in both the Spanish and Californian table fruit market and, due to its large size, brings a good price on the Australian fresh fruit market. It is considered difficult to process due to its easy bruising habit and the possibility of split pits. Early harvesting when the flesh is firm can reduce processing difficulties. It is used as a canning olive or a fermented Spanish style olive in the Californian industry.
Pests and Disease - Sevillano is resistant to peacock spot (Cycloconium oleaginum or Spilocaea oleaginea) but is susceptible to olive knot. It is prone to a problem known as 'soft nose'. As the fruit begins to ripen, the bottom end of the fruit goes soft and deteriorates rapidly. This has been seen to occur both on the tree and after harvest. It results from excessive amounts of nitrogen fertiliser in the soil which reduces the plants ability to uptake calcium from the soil and the 'soft nose' problem follows. This can be avoided by the use of natural manures for fertiliser or by only adding conservative amounts of nitrogen based chemical fertilisers to the soil.
- Some sources say that the presence of an occasional Manzanillo
tree will increase the yields in a Sevillano orchard. This practice
is common in California where many growers plant several rows
of Sevillano and then a row of Manzanillo to achieve a heavier crop.
It must also be asked whether the heavier crops are due to cross
pollination alone or other careful orchard practices as well.
VERDALE, S.A. VERDALE & WAGGA VERDALE
General - Known in the Mediterranean as 'Verdial'. This cultivar originated in the southern olive regions of France, however there are now many different 'Verdales' around the world. They vary significantly in size of fruit, oil content, flesh-to-pit ratio, harvesting times , hardiness etc.
The South Australian Verdale, a larger, oval fruited selection of the normal Verdale weighs approximately 7-10 grams, yielding 100-140 olives/kg. The Wagga Verdale reportedly has smaller fruit, similar to the plain Verdale, but a heavier crop than the South Australian Verdale. No accurate data is available on the flesh-to-pit ratio of either however, it is generally accepted that the seed is too large to make the olives commercially viable for table use when compared to the other table cultivars now available. The trees of all three cultivars are of medium size with drooping branches.
Climatic Considerations - All three Verdales have been grown successfully through much of southern Australia. Current plantings through a number of other states will give more accurate climatic data in the future.
Commercial Viability - At the time of writing, South Australian Verdale and plain Verdale are the most widely planted cultivars in the southern states of Australia. Their fruit, although large pitted, are used for table olive processing which results in a pleasant tasting, good textured olive. The oil content is generally reported as low, with collected data ranging from 7-23% (most sources are towards the lower end of this). A few growers say that the Wagga Verdale gives a 20% heavier crop than the plain Verdale.
Pests and Disease - No solid data could be sourced.
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