The effect of water stress on super-high- density 'Koroneiki' olive oil quality

Arnon Dag, Amos Naor, Alon Ben-Gal, Guy Harlev, Isaac Zipori, Doron Schneider, Reuven Birger, Moti Peres, Yoni Gal, Zohar Kerem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Over the last two decades, the area of cultivated super-high-density olive orchards has increased rapidly. Water stress is an important tool in super-high-density orchards to reduce tree growth and promote suitability for overhead mechanical harvesters. Little is known regarding the effect of water stress in super-high-density orchards on oil quality parameters. In this study the effect of irrigation rate on oil quality parameters was evaluated in a six-year-old super-high-density 'Koreneiki' olive orchard for five consecutive seasons. Five water status levels, determined by irrigating in order to maintain various midday stem water potential threshold values (-1.5, -2, -2.5, -3 and -4 MPa), were applied during the oil accumulation stage. RESULTS: The MUFA/PUFA ratio and free fatty acid content generally decreased as a function of increasing tree water stress. In most seasons a reduction in polyphenols was found with decreasing irrigation level. Peroxide value was not affected by the water stress level. CONCLUSION: The present study demonstrates that limiting irrigation and exposure of olive trees to water stress in a super-high-density orchard lowers free fatty acid content and therefore benefits oil quality. However, the decreased MUFA/PUFA ratio and the reduction in polyphenol content that were also found under increased water stress negatively influence oil quality.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2016-2020
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Issue number10
StatePublished - 15 Aug 2015


  • Fatty acid profile
  • Free fatty acid
  • Irrigation
  • Olive oil
  • Super-high-density orchard

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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