12 Common Olive Tree Problems: How to Fix Them, Solutions, and Treatment

The Olive tree is a subtropical evergreen and ornamentally grown for its attractive leaves, bark, and fruits. Olives can grow in various soils, are drought-tolerant, and can effectively extract nutrients from the soil. Without proper care, this tree will face many problems. However, it is relatively easy to grow Olive trees because the appropriate location and the maintenance of Olive trees are also not very demanding.

Common Olive Tree Problems
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Feeding Olive trees well and watering properly is the best early defense against pests and diseases, as strong trees can better withstand attacks and are less likely to cause long-term damage. Treatment of pests and diseases is always more successful at an early stage of development.

Common Olive tree problems

Olive tree leaves are dry and falling

Water

Since they are fruity and evergreen, Olive trees need a lot of water. But they are also sensitive to giving more water, as they are native to arid climates. So watering should be unusual but deep. 

Solution – It may be necessary to water more often during dry weather. The tree should be watered when the top 4 to 6 inches of soil dries up. The leaves can be yellow and fall if the trees get too much water. But if the tree becomes too dry, often in winter when the water is low, the leaves will dry up and fall. If the tree becomes too dry, it should recover when the water starts again. 

Verticillium Wilt

The leaves of individual branches will wilt and die immediately after the new growth appears. Branches die when the fungus enters the roots and spreads through the tree. The affected trees will die within about three years. 

Solution – There is no cure for verticillium wilting after the tree is affected. So, carefully monitor the Olive tree for verticillium wilt symptoms. It would help if you used fungicides in the early stage of the disease. 

Olive Knot

An Olive Knot is a bacterial disease that is spread by water and enters the tree through pruning cracks or wounds on the tree. The galls limit the movement of food and water through the tree, causing parts of the tree to starve to death. The plant leaves dry up and then fall off the tree as the shoots die.

Solution – Use copper-containing bactericides before the rainfall or the tree is injured; it will help prevent the disease. In addition, you can use gall eradicant paint to treat affected trees. 

Root rot

Root rot occurs when the soil has poor drainage or excessive wetness. Rot is caused by fungicides living in the soil. Since the roots are no longer feeding the tree, the growth of trees stops, and the leaf growth decreases. 

Solution – To check root rot, remove the soil to expose the tree crown or roots. If the tissue is brown or black, the root is dead. The Olive tree may die in a year or two. So, be careful when watering the Olive tree.  

Olive tree dying

The most common causes of Olive tree death include water problems, lack of sunlight, nitrogen deficiency, cold temperatures, stress, and natural aging. Diseases and pests can also damage Olive trees.

Underwater 

Underwater Olive trees have leaves that will wilt, sunburn will appear, and then fall. Fortunately, if the Olive tree is wilting, simple water should improve it in no time.

Solution – When young, Olive trees must be watered about once a week. Once they are established, they need even less, sometimes even less than once a month in terms of temperature.

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Olive Tree
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Root rot 

Also, giving more water to Olive trees can be a problem. They are particularly susceptible to bringing in overwater. Since you frequently water your Olive trees, each watering should be deep, which means you give them too much water once a week or less. 

Solution – If you’re giving more water to your Olive tree, the solution is simple: let it dry a little before watering again. However, if root rot has started, it won’t be easy to treat. Root rot is caused by excessive water. It will darken and destroy the roots of your Olive tree and eventually kill the trees.

If you caught it early, you could be able to remove the affected roots and dry the rest. However, there is not much more to rot. Young Olive trees are more likely to rot roots, with young roots and not so advanced. And keeping Olive trees in loose and well-draining soil will also help prevent overwatering.

Lack of sunlight 

Olive trees need full sunlight, that is, at least 8 hours of direct light per day. Even less, and they’ll start struggling. The leaves turn yellow, wilt, and then fall in signs of lack of sunlight. 

Solution – If you have a potted Olive tree, it’s easy to fix and move the pot where it can get more sunlight. For Olive trees in the ground, you can try to remove nearby objects or trees that may be blocking light. Or transplant your Olive tree somewhere with more sun. Remember to be careful while doing this, so you don’t cause stress (more on it later).

Nitrogen deficiency 

If Olive trees are not getting enough nitrogen, they will not be able to progress properly. When Olive trees are not getting enough nitrogen, their leaves will start to yellow, and growth can stop. If your Olive tree leaves are turning yellow and you know it’s getting enough sunlight, it’s likely a lack of nitrogen. A soil test tells you if the soil has the right amount of nitrogen and other important nutrients and pH levels.

Solution – If testing shows that your soil needs more nitrogen, the high nitrogen fertilizer is what you need. In addition, a blood meal is a great option to give your Olive tree a lot of nitrogen. Follow the package instructions, and your tree should bounce back soon.

Lower temperature 

The ideal temperature limit for Olive trees is 15 to 21°C, although they can grow in temperatures of 38°C or more. However, they often do not do well with low temperatures. Mature Olive trees will usually be fine with temperatures as low as -6°C. Smaller trees, though, are more sensitive to the cold and should be kept close to this 15°C mark. 

Solution – If the Olive trees become too cold, they will drop their leaves and stop growing. If you live in a cold winter spot and have a young Olive tree, consider bringing it inside for the winter. Mulch can sometimes help if you can’t bring the tree inside, as it will keep soil temperature high. And once the Olive trees are well established, they are very strong in the face of cold weather.

Transplant stress

You have to transplant your Olive tree elsewhere; you must be careful, as it can stress your plant and cause you to start dying. There are two common types of stress in transplanting an Olive tree: root stress and climate differences.

Solution – Root problems arise when you disturb the roots of your Olive tree when transplanting it. Dig into a wide circle around the roots of the Olive tree to help avoid this, and keep the root part safe as much as possible. 

Climate differences are a problem if you move your Olive tree somewhere with a much different climate than before.

Solution – To help prevent stress when doing so, help her climate by slowly changing conditions for a few weeks before moving it. It could mean temperature, light conditions, or whatever would be different in its new location. If your Olive tree gets transplant stress, the best thing you can do is keep taking the best care of it. It should be fine if it’s well established, and many small Olive trees can also recover.

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Olive Plant
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Natural Olive tree aging

Olive trees don’t lose their leaves in the winter season because trees are evergreen. Usually, when Olive leaves reach the age of 2 to 3, they will turn yellow and fall. It is a perfectly natural process that allows Olive trees to grow new leaves.

Solution – If your Olive tree is losing some leaves but shows no other signs of poor health, it can only be a natural excuse. Keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t get worse, but if it doesn’t, it’ll be fine. 

  • Olive tree diseases

Olive trees are quite resistant to disease. There are mainly two diseases you should look for. The first is the verticillium wilt. It is a fungal disease that thrives on excessive moisture. It causes Olive leaves to wilt, then branches die. It can kill the entire Olive tree in a few years.

Solution – There is no treatment for verticillium wilt. Remove the affected branches immediately if it appears, and the tree may recover. 

The second common disease is an Olive knot. A bacterial disease often enters the plant through cuts or wounds. 

Solution – Avoid leaving open wounds; if you have to cut down an Olive tree, do it with clean equipment.

An Olive knot causes the formation of galls on the trunk, which limits energy production. Eventually, the leaves wilt and fall. 

Solution – If you see this happening, an organic bio fungicide may be able to eliminate the disease.

Pests 

The first pest you should watch is an Olive fruit fly. They won’t kill your Olive tree, but they lay eggs in the fruit, hatching the Olives inedible. You see this happening as Olives will have small tan or brown entry holes.

Solution – Yeast traps are great for catching these pests because they will be attracted to yeast and then die in it. You can buy yeast traps, apple vinegar, or something similar.

The second pest is scale. These pests suck sap from Olive leaves, creating a yellow discoloration. 

Solution – Try soap and water or neem oil spray to eliminate them. Both of them will eliminate the scale and keep your Olive tree healthy.

Olive leaves turn yellow

Nutritional deficiency

Nitrogen in Olive trees is often deficient in nutrients. Trees lacking nitrogen have yellow leaves and poor growth. This deficiency is most found in heavy soil during cold and wet weather when nitrogen is less available. 

Solution – Nitrogen should be regularly applied around Olive trees to prevent deficiency symptoms. Mature Olives require one-half to two pounds of nitrogen annually, depending on the size of the plant. Apply fertilizer to help fruit growth, to fuel new growth in spring, and if necessary, in summer if the tree is growing badly.

Improper water

Olive tree leaves can be yellow if they get too little or too much water. Although Olive is drought tolerant, it does best when enough water is available. Maintain proper irrigation during drought periods. If the soil is filled with water and the aeration is damaged later, the roots of the trees will be damaged or rotten, and the leaves will turn yellow as a result. 

Solution – It is avoided by choosing the appropriate place before planting or modifying the soil as needed. Otherwise, adjust irrigation methods or consider improving aeration mechanically to tackle the problem of drainage.

Normal seasonal drop

Although Olive trees are technically evergreen, they still shed leaves. Most leaves survive only two or three years. Yellowing and falling leaves are most common in spring but can be in small quantities throughout the year. This type of yellow and leaf drop should not be alarming unless disproportionate amounts of leaves are affected. 

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Olive Farming
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Olive tree leaves turning brown

Olive tree leaves turn brown and drop branches; most likely, your tree is prone to more water or poor drainage. 

Solution – Do not water the Olive tree and let it dry. Check regularly with moisture meters to avoid oxygen-deprived roots.

The Olive tree does not produce fruit

Poor growing conditions

Olive trees are quite sensitive to temperature, and while they need some cold weather to set the fruit, if it gets too cold or remains cool for a long time, it can injure trees and prevent fruit production. Olive trees risk death if temperatures fall below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, but damage can occur when temperatures fall below 22 degrees. It can also prevent the tree from producing fruits if the weather is cold when it is blooming in spring or in hot and airy conditions.  

Solution – Olive trees are mostly tolerant of soil conditions but will not tolerate wet soil. For good fruit production, ensure the soil drains well and avoid more water.  

Alternate bearing trees

It can be normal if you enjoy a good crop one year and your trees are not produced next year. Olive trees as alternative trees will naturally produce a heavy crop in alternate years.

Solution – With some heavy crops and thin fruits management, you can encourage your trees to produce more permanent crops and large fruits. Thinning of fruits can be done by spraying the chemical naphthalene acetic acid on trees which are absorbed into leaves, and some fruits fall from the tree. High temperatures increase the effects of the NAA, and you can lose too much damage to your crop in hot conditions.

Olive tree reproduction and pollination

The wind pollinates Olive tree flowers, but many trees are self-incompatible and cannot be fertilized from their pollen. If you have a small number of Olive trees, this inability to self-pollinate may be because your tree is not producing fruit. 

Solution – Having trees that are different cultivars will often solve this problem. It is also essential that not all varieties of Olive trees produce fruits. 

Pests 

Borers 

New borers dig deep into the tree, and the twigs and branches eventually die. 

Solution – Avoid injuring Olive trees, causing them to suffer damage from these pests. Prune the affected branches.

Scales

Gray Olive scales, greedy scales, California red scales, and Olander scales eat fruits and leaves, dang fruit and decreasing the tree’s productivity. 

Solution – To control them, treat Olive trees with horticultural oil or introduce natural pests, such as wasps. 

Olive fruit fly

An Olive fruit fly can destroy entire crops when its hungry larvae burrow into Olives and eat them. Fruit flies are active throughout the year and often spread to other crops. 

Solution – Always remove unwanted Olives from trees and collect fallen Olives from their disposal. Fight the attack of the aphids, as their secret honeydew attracts fruit flies. To prevent this problem, spray ornamental trees that do not need to be fruited with anti-fruiting chemicals. 

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Olive Farm
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Root Weevils

Established Olive trees can deal with root weevils, but young people need protection. 

Solution – Branches that touch the ground and allow flightless weevils to access the tree should be pruned. Also, wrapping the stem in cellophane covered in a commercially made sticky matter for trees will trap weevils on their way to the leaves.  

Diseases

Olive scab

Olive scab affects leaves, and severe attacks are not only ugly but can also reduce the excitement of the tree by causing premature leaf drops. Symptoms can be purple or brown rings surrounding a green or yellow center or solid purple or brown circles. 

Solution – Remove and dispose of fallen leaves, to reduce the risk of acting as a source of their spores. Avoid having trees in areas where air circulation is poor. Prune canopy to open it will also improve air circulation. 

Olive peacock spot 

Olive peacock spots are very common and affect Olive tree leaves worldwide. It only attacks Olive trees in the growing season. It is easy enough to spot as you will see tiny black spots on the top surface of the leaves. However, the fungus can be easily spread by weather and pests, so it is impossible to control. Peacock spots can cause significant Olive damage. However, in the worst cases, there may be defoliation, which can lead to the death of twigs. 

Solution – The good news is that it is easily curable. The best way to treat peacock spots is to spray your Olive tree with a copper mixture or fungicides. It would help if you did it in November and then in February. It should be enough to ensure that Peacock spot is kept away.

Verticillium Wilt, Phytophthora Root Rot, and Honey fungus

Verticillium Wilt, Phytophthora Root Rot, and Honey fungus are sometimes the results of water logging and poor drainage. Symptoms include wilting, yellowing or dying leaves, and branches dying back. It results from a poor root system, as roots cannot give the Olive tree the required nutrients.

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Olive
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Solution – Soil can be easily prevented through good drainage; furthermore, ensure that the soil used during re-potting or planting an Olive tree is not affected as it can spread the disease to the Olive tree. Unfortunately, no chemical control can be provided to help root or fungus; the best advice is to ensure good drainage.

Conclusion

Keep the crown open to keep the Olives disease-free. Limiting height makes detecting problems, applying control measures, and picking fruits easier. With a bit of plant care and a lot of sunlight, you’ll be able to keep the Olive tree alive for many years. As Olive trees are known to survive for hundreds of years, and sometimes more, your Olive tree may end up as a lifelong friend.

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