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Monday, June 20, 2011

Is Twenty Minutes Enough Water for an Olive Tree?

Q. My fruitless olive tree is losing leaves branches on the south side of the tree. It has been in the ground since December 2010 having been planted from a 36" box. I have been watering it 3 times a week for 20 minutes each time since March, less frequently the past winter.
It has 4 emitters. Since I noticed the bare branches, I have started to hand water once a week for an hour with a bubbler. The wind usually blows through the tree from the south where the bare branches are located.

Drip emitters
are measured in gallons per hour
A. Let’s assume your drip emitters are three gallons per hour, a very common rate for drip emitters which are not adjustable. You have four of them. That makes 12 gallons per hour. You water for 20 minutes that means you water the olive with four gallons.

To fill a 36 inch boxed tree with soil I would guess would take about 25 to 30 gallons or more. This tree is way underwatered. Run the hose on the tree in a four inch deep basin surrounding the planting hole and fill the basin twice every time you water. This tree will require somewhere around 30 gallons or more each time you water.

You will need to add emitters to the tree or run the drip for at least 2 to 3 hours each time you water as it is presently configured. Right now you should be watering twice a week with that volume.

I want to add that if you are planting trees and shrubs you should ALWAYS hand water them in for two to three weeks after planting and then begin your drip system. Do not just turn them over to drip irrigation after planting.

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