California Crop Fertilization Guidelines

UC Davis
A collaboration between CDFA, FREP and UC Davis

Olive Nitrogen Uptake and Partitioning

The Fertilization guidelines can also be found on the UC Davis Nutrient Management website .

Seasonal N Uptake

Season N Uptake Curve Graph

Nitrogen uptake of 10-year old rainfed 'Cobrançosa' olives in Portugal in an 'on' year [7]. Each year, about 20-30% of the canopy was pruned. Yield in this study was about 1 ton/acre, and tree density was 85 trees/acre. Very little N is taken up during the dormant period for both 'on' and 'off' year trees. The time of greatest uptake is around March through May, when fruit set and the spring flush occur. Uptake starts to slow down at the pit hardening phase, and is lower up to the harvest. In "on" years, more of the spring N uptake is allocated to the fruit, while in "off" years, more is allocated to the new shoots [2].

Nitrogen Partitioning

Nitrogen partitioning pie chart

Nitrogen distribution in high-yielding irrigated 10-year old 'Barnea' olive trees in Israel. The values are an average between 'on' and 'off' years [2].

Nitrogen Removed at Harvest

Nitrogen removed with harvested olives. Value includes the pulp and pit. The overall average is weighted for the number of observations in each trial. More information can be found here [6].

Location Years Removal (lbs N/ton fresh olives) Source
    Mean Range  
California 2010-11 6.89 6 - 7.8 [8]
Spain 2010-12 7.40 6.1 - 8.3 [9]
Spain 1997-2003 5.75 4 - 9.7 [5]
Spain 2001-06 4.40 4.1 - 4.7 [4]
Italy 1995 9.17 7.2 - 11.1 [3]
Portugal 2010 4.27   [7]
Israel 2007 6.46 4.3 - 8.6 [2]
Weighted Average 6.28 4 - 11.1  



  1. Belguerri, H., Villa, J.M., Pascual, M., Fatmi, A., Amadeu, A., Rufat J., 2016. A proposal of nitrogen balance in a very high density olive orchard. Journal of Fundamental and Applied Sciences 8, 639-654.
  2. Bustan, A., Avni, A., Yermiyahu, U., Ben-Gal, A., Riov, J., Erel, R., Zipori, I., Dag, A., 2013. Interactions between fruit load and macroelement concentrations in fertigated olive (Olea europaea L.) trees under arid saline conditions. Scientia Horticulturae 152, 44-55.
  3. Celano, G., Dichio, B., Montanaro, G., Nuzzo, V., Palese, A.M., Xiloyannis, C., 1999. Distribution of dry matter and amount of mineral elements in irrigated and non-irrigated olive trees. Acta Horticulturae 474, 381-384.
  4. Fernández-Escobar, R., García-Novelo, J.M., Molina-Soria, C., Parra, M.A., 2012. An approach to nitrogen balance in olive orchards. Scientia Horticulturae 135:219-226.
  5. Fernández-Escobar, R., Sánchez-Zamora, M.A., García-Novelo, J.M., Molina-Soria, C., 2015. Nutrient removal from olive trees by fruit yield and pruning. HortScience 50, 474-478.
  6. Geisseler, D., 2016. Nitrogen concentrations in harvested plant parts -A literature overview. Report to the Kings River Watershed Coalition.
  7. Rodrigues, M.Â., Ferreira, I.Q., Claro, A.M., Arrobas, M., 2012. Fertilizer recommendations for olive based upon nutrients removed in crop and pruning. Scientia Horticulturae 142, 205-211
  8. Rosecrance, R.C., Krueger, W.H., 2012. Total fruit nutrient removal calculator for olive in California.
  9. Rufat, J., Villar, J.M., Pascual, M., Falguera, V., Arbonés, A., 2014. Productive and vegetative response to different irrigation and fertilization strategies of an Arbequina olive orchard grown under super-intensive conditions. Agricultural Water Management 144, 33-41.