All plants are propagated by rooting cuttings taken from vigorous-growing, disease and pest-free mother stock which is verified true-to-type.
The most common cultivar in Tuscany and variations of it are found all over the central regions of Italy. It is a very adaptable cultivar and is used frequently in developing countries. The tree is medium vigorous and is not very susceptible to alternate bearing. It has a high oil yield of between 15 and 22%, well-balanced and fruity and considered the benchmark of Italian olive oil. Fruit is small in size, ripening towards the end of the season.
Leccino is the second most important cultivar in Tuscany, and has been widely planted in developing countries. It is a vigorous variety, very resistant to cold weather, and gives constant good yields. The tree produces small fruit with a variable oil content of between 16 and 21%, mildly fruity and delicate. Ripening is early in the season.
This cultivar is found mainly in the south of Italy (Puglia) and is being grown successfully in developing countries. Trees are fast growing, with a spreading, slightly drooping, compact growth habit which makes harvesting easier. It produces constant good yields, and the fruit is large with a high oil content of 17 to 23%. The oil has a very strong peppery flavour. The tree comes into bearing early, and productivity is high and constant. Fruit ripens evenly and late in the season.
Koroneiki is the most popular oil variety grown in Greece. The tree is of medium vigor with a spreading habit and an open canopy and has high and constant yields. The fruit is small, ovoid and slightly asymmetric, with a very high content of oil. It is an early bearer which produces lots of pollen. This is a good drought resistant variety but one that does not tolerate cold well.
A relatively new Israeli cultivar with high, consistent productivity, well-suited to mechanical harvesting. The tree is vigorous and erect-growing with a loose and open crown. By the third year, it has given commercial yields of 10 tonnes per hectare with 20% oil content in Israel. It produces high-quality fruit for the top end of the olive oil market. The Barnea cultivar is now widely planted in most of the world's olive-growing regions, but primarily in orchards with at least partial irrigation.
This is the second largest cultivar grown in Greece, and is perhaps the most popular black table olive. The fruit is of medium size and has a very distinctive upturned tip at the point of the pip and the fruit. The skin turns dark black on maturity, and is hand harvested once the fruit has undergone a complete colour change. The fruit ripens late in the season, and is used almost exclusively for the preparation of premium table olives. The flesh retains a good texture, with a high flesh to pit ratio, and has an excellent flavour when processed. The tree is fairly vigorous, with an upright growth habit. Because of its low rooting ability, this variety is usually hard to come by, and sells at a premium.
This is the queen of green table olive varieties and originates from Spain, where its name means “little apple”. The fruit is rarely harvested once it ripens other than for oil extraction, as it softens rapidly upon ripening. The tree is a robust variety with a well-developed canopy and sets single fruits of medium size that are symmetrical and apple-shaped, with an insignificant oil content. The skin is thick, green with tiny whitish spots, becoming purplish black upon maturity, and the fruit has an excellent texture. The fruit ripens earlier than Mission, usually towards the beginning of March. This cultivar is most productive in areas with mild climates and no frost.
The Mission olive is the longest-established olive cultivar in California, introduced by Spanish monks in the 1700s. It is widely planted in South Africa and often referred to as a dual-purpose olive. Although it ripens rather late, the fruit remains firm when ripe and is ideally suited to processing when black. One of the few cultivars available that make a very acceptable, naturally black table olive. The tree has high vigor with an erect habit and canopy of medium den- sity, and the fruit has a slightly asymmetrical ovoid shape. This is a multi- purpose variety; used in green and black table olives as well as oil production with 22% oil content. Any fruit that is unsuitable for table use can be used for oil. Productivity is medium and alternate with a late ripening.
This cultivar is now considered the best Italian table olive variety. It comes from Sicily in the south of Italy and is used for green table olives, but also produces an excellent quality oil with a medium oil content of 15 – 18%. The fruit is large, weighing 6 – 8g, is round or oval shaped and similar to the Manzanilla variety, with a high flesh to pit ratio. Ripening is late in the season.