New Method for Identifying Olive Cultivars

A new semi-automatic methodology for identifying olive cultivars according to the appearance of leaves and fruit is intended to serve as the basis for a phone app for producers and contributions to a new international olive tree database, according to Konstantinos Blazakis, a researcher working with Panagiotis Kalaitzis in the Department of Horticultural Genetics and Biotechnology at the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICh) in Crete, Greece.

Blazakis hopes one application of this new method will be a cell phone app that will be able to identify the cultivar based on a photo of an olive fruit, leaf, or endocarp. He expects to start with Greek cultivars within the next year or two and hopes to gain support to add international cultivars to this app as a supplementary project later. He admits that the cell phone app will probably be most helpful in countries where there are many different olive varieties, as farmers want to be sure they know which cultivar they have.

Another of Blazakis’s goals is to contribute to a new international online database that will catalog information about the appearance and chemical analysis, among other things, of olive varieties worldwide. He said fifteen partners from a number of countries are working together to prepare this user-friendly database for the general public, which will be “based on the genetic, physiological, molecular, and morphological study of each cultivar.” The researchers intend to incorporate previous data, double checked for accuracy, as well as adding new information.

This is part of the wide-ranging, ambitious Bioresources For Oliviculture, or BeFOre, project which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement and is also supported by the International Olive Council. More