Fruit and oil quality of mature olive trees under partial rootzone drying


  • B. Aganchich Laboratoire de physiologie végétale, Département de Biologie, Faculté des Sciences Semlalia
  • A. El Antari Laboratoire de la technologie des huiles, Programme-Olivier, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique
  • S. Wahbi Laboratoire de physiologie végétale, Département de Biologie, Faculté des Sciences Semlalia
  • H. Tahi Laboratoire de physiologie végétale, Département de Biologie, Faculté des Sciences Semlalia
  • R. Wakrim Laboratoire de physiologie végétale, Département de Biologie, Faculté des Sciences Semlalia
  • R. Serraj Laboratoire de physiologie végétale, Département de Biologie, Faculté des Sciences Semlalia - IRRI, DAPO



Deficit irrigation, Oil fatty acid composition, Picholine marocaine, PRD


This study was conducted to evaluate the quantitative and qualitative effects of partial rootzone drying (PRD) irrigation on olive trees and their fruit and oil quality. Olive trees of the Moroccan Picholine variety were grown under arid conditions in Marrakech, and exposed to four irrigation treatments: Control (irrigated with 100 % of the crop evapotranspiration, on the two sides of the root system), PRD1 (irrigated with 50 % of the control, on one side of the root system, switching every two weeks), PRD2 (irrigated with 50 % of the control, on one side of the root system, switching every four weeks) and PRD3 (irrigated with the same amount of water as the control applied on one side of the root system, switching every two weeks). The individual fruit weight, dimensions and oil contents were generally greater under PRD than the control. Whereas, the fruit water content was lower under PRD1 and PRD2 than the control and PRD3. Oil acidity was not affected by irrigation, while the total polyphenol content, which affects the oxidative stability and sensory characteristics of the oil, increased in response to the PRD irrigation, especially under PRD1 (246.0 ppm) and PRD2 (278.5 ppm) treatments, against 148.4 ppm and 101.8 ppm for PRD3 and the control respectively. This increase could explain the oil bitterness observed under PRD1 and PRD2. The fatty acid composition was not affected by PRD1 and PRD2. The oil quality based on UV absorption coefficients (K232 and K270) decreased significantly under PRD2. Chlorophyll content and maturity index were antagonistic, and olive ripeness was found to be precocious under PRD irrigation treatments compared to the control.


Download data is not yet available.


A.F.NOR. 1984. Recueil des normes françaises des corps gras, graines oléagineuses et produits dérivés. 3ème édition, ED. AFNOR. Paris.

Aganchich B, Tahi H, Wahbi S, Elmodaffar C, Serraj R. 2007. Growth, water relations and antioxidant defence mechanisms of olive (Olea europaea L.) subjected to Partial Root Drying (PRD) and Regulated Deficit Irrigation (RDI). Plant Biosystems 141 (2), 252-264. doi:10.1080/11263500701401893

Allen RG. 2000. Using the FAO-dual crop coefficient method over an irrigated region as part of an evapotranspiration intercomparison study. Journal of Hydrology 229, 27– 41. doi:10.1016/S0022-1694(99)00194-8

Alvino A, Centritto M, De Lorenzi F. 1994. Photosynthesis response of sunlit and shade pepper (Capsicum annum) leaves at different positions in the canopy under two water regimes. Australian Journal of Plant Physiology 21, 377-391.

Bahrun A. 2003. Improving water-use efficiency of field grown soybean (Glycine max L. cv Bromo) by partial zone irrigation. J. Exp. Bot., special issue: International Conference on Water-Saving Agriculture and Sustainable Use of Water and Land Resources (ICWSAWLR), Yangling, Shaanxi, P.R. China, 26-29 October.

Beltran G, del Rio C, Sanchez S, Martinez L. 2004. Seasonal changes in olive fruit characteristics and oil accumulation during ripening process. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 84, 1783-1790. doi:10.1002/jsfa.1887

Berger C. 2006. Huile d’olive: visite d’un moulin. php?article68

Caponio F, Gomes T. 2001. Phenolic compounds in virgin olive oils: influence of the degree of ripeness on organoleptic characteristics and shelf life. European Journal of Food Research and Technology 212, 329- 333. doi:10.1007/s002170000268

Centritto M, Loreto F, Massacci A, Pietrini F, Villani MC, Zacchini M. 2000. Improved growth and water use efficiency of cherry saplings under reduced light intensities. Ecological Research 15, 385-392. doi:10.1046/j.1440-1703.2000.00359.x

Centritto M, Wahbi S, Serraj R., Chaves MM. 2005. Effects of partial rootzone drying (PRD) on adult olive tree (Olea europaea) in field conditions under arid climate II. Photosynthetic responses. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment 106, 303-311. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2004.10.016

d’Andria R, Morelli G, Giorio P, Patumi M, Vergari G, Fontanazza G. 1999. Yield and oil quality of young olive trees grown under different irrigation regimes. Proceedings of the third international symposium on olive growing. Acta Horticulturae 474, 185-188.

d’Andria R, Morelli G, Martuccio G, Fontanazza G, Patumi M. 1996. Valutazione della produzione e della qualita’dell’olio di Giovanni piante di olivo allevate con diversi regimi idrici. Italus Hortus 3, 23-31.

Davies WJ, Wilkinson S, Loveys B. 2002. Stomatal control by chemical signalling and the exploitation of this mechanism to increase water use efficiency in agriculture. New Phytologist 153, 449-460. doi:10.1046/j.0028-646X.2001.00345.x

Dettori S, Russo G. 1993. Influencia del cultivar y del regimen hidrico sobre et volumen y la calidad del aceite de oliva. Olivae 49, 36-43.

Dry PR, Loveys BR, Botting D, During H. 1996. Effects of partial root-zone drying on grapevine vigour, yield, composition of fruit and use of water. Proceedings of the 9th Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference 126-131.

EL Antari A, EL Moudni A, Boujnah M, Cert A, Ajana H. 2002. Region and watering frequency effects on quality and acid composition evolution of Moroccan olive oil. New Medit. 1 (2), 55-59.

Fereres E, Soriano AM. 2007. Deficit irrigation for reducing agricultural water use. Journal of Experimental Botany 58, 147-159. doi:10.1093/jxb/erl165 PMid:17088360

Fernàndez JE, Diaz-Espejio A, Infante JM. 2006. Water relations and gas exchange in olive trees under regulated deficit irrigation and partial rootzone drying. Plant Soil 284, 273-291. doi:10.1007/s11104-006-0045-9

Gianfranco M. 1989. Huile: variétés et technologies influencent la qualité. Olivae 29, 28-30.

Goldhamer DA. 1999. Regulated deficit irrigation for California canning olives. Proceedings of the third international symposium on olive growing. Acta Horticulturae 474, 369-372.

Gomez-Rico A, Salvador MD, Moriana A, Perez D, Olmedilla N, Ribas F. 2005. Influence of different irrigation strategies in a traditional Cornicabra cv. Olive orchard on virgin olive oil composition and quality. Food Chemistry 100 (2), 568-578. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2005.09.075

Gutiérrez F, Perdiguero S, Gutiérrez R, Olias JM. 1992. Evaluation of the bitter taste in virgin olive oil. J. Am. Oil Chem. Soc. 69, 394-395. doi:10.1007/BF02636076

Hutton R. 2000. Improving the water use efficiency of citrus at Yanco Agricultural Institute. Farmers’ Newslett.-Horticult. 184, 47-49.

IOOC. 2001. International Olive Oil Council/T.15/NC n° 2/Rév. 10, 8 Novembre.

Kang S, Hu X, Goodwin I, Jerie P. 2002. Soil water distribution, water use, and yield response to partial root zone drying under a shallow groundwater table condition in a pear orchard. Scientia Horticulturae 92, 277–291. doi:10.1016/S0304-4238(01)00300-4

Kiritsakis A, Marakakis P. 1987. Olive oil: a review. Advances in food Research 31, 453-482.

Kohyama N, Nagata T, Fujimoto S, Sekiya K. 1997. Inhibition of arachidonate lipoxygenase activities by 2- (3,4-dihydroxyphenyl) ethanol, a phenolic compound from olives. Bioscience Biotechnology Biochemistry 61, 347–350.

Lavee S, Wodner M. 2004. The effect of yield, harvest time and fruit size on the oil content in fruits of irrigated olive trees (Olea europaea), cvs. Barnea and Manzanillo. Scientia Horticulturae 99, 267-277. doi:10.1016/S0304-4238(03)00100-6

Loveys BR, Stoll M, Dry PR, McCarthy MG. 2000. Using plant physiology to improve the water use efficiency of horticultural crops. Acta Horticulturae 537, 187-197.

MADRPM/DPV. 2005. Oléiculture marocaine : Situation actuelle et perspectives de développement. Journées oléicoles sous le thème «Appui à la commercialisation des huiles d’olives». Essaouira, Morocco 11-12 novembre.

Mazliak P. 1968. Le métabolisme des lipides dans les plantes supérieurs. Edition Masson and Cie, Paris.

Mingo D, Bacon MA, Davies WJ. 2003. Non-hydraulic regulation of fruit growth in tomato plants (Lycopersicon esculentum cv. Solairo) growing in drying soil. Journal of Experimental Botany 54, 1205-1212. doi:10.1093/jxb/erg120 PMid:12654871

Motilva MJ, Romero MP, Alegre S, Girona J. 1999. Effect of regulated deficit irrigation in olive oil production and quality. Proceedings of the third international symposium on olive growing. Acta Horticulturae 474, 377-380.

Motilva MJ, Tovar MJ, Romero MP, Alegre S, Girona J. 2000. Influence of regulated deficit irrigation strategies applied to olive trees (Arbequina cultivar) on oil yield and oil composition during the fruit ripening periods. Journal of Science and Food Agriculture 80 (14), 2037–2043. doi:10.1002/1097-0010(200011)80:14<2037::AID-JSFA733>3.0.CO;2-0

Nanos GD, Kazantzis I, Kefalas P, Petrakis C, Stavroulakis GG. 2002. Irrigation and harvest time affect almond kernel quality and composition. Scientia Horticulturae 96, 249-256. doi:10.1016/S0304-4238(02)00078-X

Patumi M, d’Andria R, Fontanzza G, Morelli G, Giorio P, Sorrentino G. 1999.Yield and oil quality of intensively trained trees of three cultivars of olive (Olea europaea L.) under different irrigation regimes. Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology 74 (6), 729-737.

Patumi M, d’Andria R, Marsilio V, Fontanzza G, Morelli G, Lanza B. 2002. Olive and olive oil quality after intensive monocone olive growing (Olea europaea L., cv. Kalamata) in different irrigation regimes. Food Chemistry 77, 27-34. doi:10.1016/S0308-8146(01)00317-X

Salas J, Pastor M, Castro J, Vega V. 1997. In.uencia del riego sobre la composition y caracteristicas organolepticas del aceite de oliva. Grasas y Aceites 48, 74–82.

Salvador M, Aranda F, Fregapane G. 2001. Influence of fruit ripening on ‘Cornicabra’ virgin olive oil quality. A study of four successive crop seasons. Food Chemistry 73, 45-53. doi:10.1016/S0308-8146(00)00276-4

Solinas M. 1990. Olive oil quality and its determining factors. In Proceedings of Problems on Olive Oil Quality Congress. pp. 23–55. Sassari, Italy.

Stefanoudaki E, Chartzoulakis K, Koutsaftakis A, Kostifaki F. 2001. Effect of drought stress on qualitative characteristics of olive oil of cv Koroneiki. Grasas y Aceites 52 (3-4), 202–206.

Tahi H, Wahbi S, Wakrim R, Aganchich B, Serraj R, Centritto M. 2007. Water relations, photosynthesis, growth and water-use efficiency in tomato plants subjected to partial rootzone drying and regulated deficit irrigation. Plant Biosystems 141, 265 – 274. doi:10.1080/11263500701401927

Tovar MJ, Motilva MJ, Luna M, Girona J, Romero MP. 2001. Analytical characteristics of virgin olive oil from young trees (Arbequinacultivar) growing under linear irrigation strategies. J. Am. Oil Chem. Soc. 78 (8), 843-849. doi:10.1007/s11746-001-0353-5

Tovar MJ, Romero MP, Girona J, Motilva MJ. 2002. LPhenylalanine ammonia-lyase activity and concentration of phenolics in developing olive (Olea europaea L cv Arbequina) fruit grown under different irrigation regimes. Journal of Science and Food Agriculture 82 (8), 892–898. doi:10.1002/jsfa.1122

Uceda M, Frias L. 1975. Epoca de recoleccion. Evolution del contenido graso del fruto y de la composicion y calidad del aceite. II Seminario Oléicola Internacional. Cordoba.

Vazquez Roncero A, Janer del Valle C, Janer del Valle ML. 1973. Determinacion de los polifenols totales del aceite de oliva. Grasas y Aceites 24 (6), 350-357.

Visioli F, Galli C. 1998. Olive oil phenols and their potential effects on human health. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry 46, 4292-4296. doi:10.1021/jf980049c

Wahbi S, Wakrim R, Aganchich B, Tahi H, Serraj R. 2005. Effects of partial rootzone drying (PRD) on adult olive tree (Olea europaea) in field conditions under arid climate I. physiological and agronomic responses. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment 106, 289-301. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2004.10.015

Wakrim R, Wahbi S, Tahi H, Aganchich B, Serraj R. 2005. Comparative effects of partial root drying (PRD) and regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) on water relations and water use efficiency in common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.).Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment 106, 275–287. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2004.10.019

Wolff JP. 1968. Manuel d’analyse des corps gras. Azoulay ed. Paris, 391 pages.




How to Cite

Aganchich B, El Antari A, Wahbi S, Tahi H, Wakrim R, Serraj R. Fruit and oil quality of mature olive trees under partial rootzone drying. grasasaceites [Internet]. 2008Sep.30 [cited 2022Dec.1];59(3):225-33. Available from: