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Journal of the American Pomological Society
(J Am Pom Soc)

American Pomological Society

Volume 58 Number 4 Article 27 Pages: 203-209
Year 2004 Month 10
Title: Genetic Diversity and Clonal Variation among Olive Cultivars Offer Hope for Selecting Cultivars for Texas
Authors: N.S.A. Malik and J.M. Bradford
Some researchers in the past have discouraged the cultivation of olives as a commercial crop in Texas. Their argument was primarily based on the temperature data of olive growing areas in the world versus the climatic conditions in Texas. Actual growth and performance of olive trees was not tested at any location in Texas. However, approximately 5-6 years ago, interested farmers started a few olive groves on a trial basis at different locations in the Texas Valley. Normally, olive trees mature and then start flowering and fruiting within 4-6 years; early maturing cultivars can produce fruits within a year. A survey on the performance of these trees was, therefore, conducted during the 2002 and 2003 seasons to ascertain whether adaptability to local climatic conditions exists among clones of various olive cultivars planted at different locations. The survey identified clonal variation among two trees with striking adaptability to local climatic conditions thus producing flowers and fruits under conditions in which other olive cultivars did not flower. In addition, several trees were identified that produced remarkably well at different locations under climatic conditions that were marginally conducive to flowering. This information about the adaptability of some trees, exhibiting clonal variation, to the Valley climate offers hope that promising cultivars of olives could be developed for Texas by tapping into natural genetic diversity, clonal variation, and the adaptability of olive plant accessions to local climatic conditions. Additionally, there is a need to further evaluate the performance of selected trees and to import more cultivars from areas with climatic conditions similar to Texas for additional testing at different sites in Texas.

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