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Kalamata olive tree appearance care harvest

Kalamata Olive Tree | Appearance | Care | Harvest | Olives

Kalamata olive tree name comes from the city of Kalamata located in the Messinia region in Greece. This is where the Kalamata olive tree originated and is mostly cultivated.

Messinia region
A map of Greece: the Messenia region (under the number 1) is a part of the Peloponnese (no 2), one of the most beautiful places in Greece

Just look into a brief video about olive groves in Kalamata, the land of olive trees to build a first impression how Kalamata olive trees look like.

Kalamata olive tree grove in the Messenia region, Greece

Kalamata Olive Tree Appearance

Kalamata olive trees are evergreen, low-maintenance trees, producing plentiful fruits of antioxidant-rich, versatile Kalamata olives as early as their first years after planting.

Kalamata olive trees have weeping branches with shiny, larger than the normal olive tree silvery-green leaves that retain their color year-round in warm climates. Their root system is invasive and extend widely from its base to get the optimum moisture that it could retrieve from this dry area.

Kalamata olive tree groves
Kalamata olive tree is fairly large beautiful evergreen tree

Kalamata olive trees grow to be 14 – 20 feet (4 – 6 meters) tall at maturity with a 15 -20 (4.5 – 6 meters) foot-spread.

Kalamata trees small, almond-shaped olives emerge green before transitioning to light pink, then ultimately turn glossy dark purple or brown when they’ve ripened on the tree and are ready to be harvested.

Specifications

Kalamata Olive TreeCharacteristics
OriginKalamata, Messinia – the southest region in Greece
Olive varietyAbove 90% of all Kalamata olive trees is Kalamon or Koroneiki variety
Height14 -20 feet (4 – 6 meters)
FlowersSmall, fragrant, creamy flowers
FruitingCan produce fruit in 1st year
PollinationSelf-pollinating
Soil compositionVarious loamy soils including sandy loam, clay loam, silt loam; well-draining
ResistanceCold-hardy down to 22°F  (-5.5°C)
USDA Hardiness ZonesZones 8-10 outdoors, Zones 4-7 on patio/indoors
Table 1 : Kalamata olive tree specifications

Oldest Kalamata Olive Tree

The Mana is the oldest Olive Tree of Kalamata located in the area of the University of Peloponnese at Lakonikis street and was declared a “Preserved natural monument” by the decision of the Minister of Agriculture, Greece.

It is a Kalamon variety 14 meters high, the perimeter of its trunk is around nine meters, the diameter of its canopy is 15 meters and its age is estimated between 800-850 years (and according to research by the Messinian forester Dr. Panagiotis Bazigou can reach 1733 years).

Mana oldest olive tree in Kalamata
The Mana is the oldest and largest Kalamata olive tree (image source)

The Mana – Olive of Kalamata, also called “mother-olive” can be the symbol of the city, the monument which can be its trademark. Though, Kalamata city is deeply connected to the olive and oil world.

Growing Zones

Kalamata olive trees originate in Greece, however, now is spread around the world. The ideal growing zone is the Mediterranean region. However, can be found cultivated in South America, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and the United States.

According to USDA Hardiness Zones Kalamata trees flourish in Zones 8-10 if planted outdoors. Otherwise, if planted in a container, they can remain outside in Zones 4-7 until winter, when they should be brought inside.

Planting

Kalamata olive trees should be planted in fall or early spring. If planted outside, choose a location that receives full sunlight to partial shade and good soil drainage. Ideally, an olive tree should get at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.

Kalamon and Koroneiki olive variety are self-pollinating and will yield fruit with just one, but planting a second will boost crop yield. If you choose to plant more than one, make sure they are 8-12 feet (2.4 – 3.6 meters) apart from each other, measuring from their trunks.

Remove any weeds or turf grass and clear away any debris from the site. Dig a hole that is roughly twice the width of the root ball. Backfill the hole with soil, then water gently to settle the roots.

If you choose to plant your Kalamata olive tree in a pot or container, choose a pot that has drainage holes for watering and that is 1.5 – 2 times the width of the container your tree arrived in or at least 30% larger than its root ball.    

Kalamata olive tree
This is mature Kalamata tree over 100 years but still producing delicious fruits every year

Kalamata Olive Tree Care

Kalamata olive trees are low-maintenance, able to tolerate many different soil types, a range of sunlight, and able to withstand temperatures as low as 22°F (-5.5°C).

Sun and shade

Kalamata olive trees thrive in full sunlight, when they receive at least 6 – 8 hours of direct sunlight per day.

This olive tree can also tolerate partial shade (4 – 6 hours of sunlight), but this may reduce their overall production yield and slow down the growing.

Soil

Kalamata olive trees are able to tolerate a wide variety of soil, but they prefer well-draining, various loamy soils: sandy loam, clay loam, silt loam, and silty clay loam. 

Also, you can plant and grow your Kalamata trees successfully in a range of soil types, from sandy to loamy to clay.

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Read more on soil preparation for olive trees

Watering

Although Kalamata olive trees can tolerate drought, they should be watered regularly when first planted to help establish a healthy root system. For the first few weeks after planting, water your Kalamata olive tree twice weekly.

After that, you can reduce watering to once every week or bi-weekly. Don’t water soil that is already moist to avoid olive tree overwatering symptoms. Test the level by inserting your finger into the soil to at least 2 inches (5 cm) down. If the soil feels dry and soil particles don’t stick to your finger, you need to water.

Still not sure when to water your olive tree in a pot? For more scientific results, use a moisture meter to be sure that your olive tree is thirsty.

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Last update on 2021-06-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

moisture meter for olive trees in pots complete guidelines on how to use it
Read more about moisture meters for potted olive trees

Fertilizing

To boost your olive tree growth and harvest, feed your tree at least twice a year, in spring and fall, with a slow-release, nitrogen-rich fertilizer or balanced for olive trees fertilizer.

You can find key nutrients for olive tree and suggestions for potted olive tree fertilizers in my article: best fertilizers for olive trees in pots.

Pruning

Kalamata olive trees respond well to yearly pruning. Prune at the leaf nodes at the end of winter but before the tree has started flowering.

Pruning is recommended for increasing sunlight penetration, opening up the canopy, and boosting olive harvest.

prune olive trees in pots
Read more on how to prune olive trees in pots

Kalamata Olive Tree Harvest

Kalamata olives are meaty and juicy, with small pits. Your tree will begin fruiting within the first years, but maximum fruit yield will reach its maturity (~ 7-10 years). The olives ripen on the tree, and you can tell when they’re ready when they become glossy dark purple, or brown.

These olive fruits usually ripen during mid-November to early January in Greece, making them an excellent choice for creating your own olive oil or prepared as table olives and consumed as a snack or ingredient in the dish.

Good to point, that Kalamata olives are one of the top exported food items from Greece all over the world.

healthiest olives Kalamata by Oliviada
Find out why Kalamata olives are the healthiest

Kalamata or Kalamon Olives

All olive lovers know about Kalamata or Kalamon olives, the meaty, distinct superior taste, dark brown or purple antioxidant-rich fruits perfect for making oils, putting on pizza, or scattering across an antipasto platter.

Incredibly popular for their large harvests and hardiness, Kalamata or Kalamon olives is considered as a superior variety of edible olives which thrives in an arid environment with dry and low moisture soil.

Organic Kalamata olives Oliviada
Kalamata olives are harvested dark purple / brown color when fully ripened

Therefore, the European Commission grants a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) to Kalamata olives originating in the Messinia region, Greece. This Kalamata PDO status provides that the quality or other characteristics of the Kalamata olives are essentially attributable to the particular geographical environment of Kalamata in the Messinia region and incorporates natural and human factors such as climate, soil conditions, topography, local know-how, etc

Kalamata olives new superfood
Read more about Kalamata olives

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Kalamata Olive Tree in Pot

Kalamata olive trees make excellent outdoor plants as well as patio accents, easily brought inside during winter snaps, with gorgeous silvery-green foliage and delicate white blooms.

When growing in pot, olive tree is much smaller than planted in ground and needs more frequent watering due to limited space in pot.

Kalamata olive tree in pot
This Kalamata olive tree in pot is flowering in May with ripened olive fruits to follow in the Autumn

If you need to choose a right pot, a 20-22 inches (50 – 55 cm) container would be appropriate to grow small Kalamata olive tree. Using pots that are made from clay and ceramic will assist better as they are “breathable” materials, helping the roots to stay well aerated.

Don’t forget to check olive roots once per year and repot it at least each few years. It helps to avoid pot bound situation and keep the soil refreshed and rebuilt nutrition level. 

care for olive trees in pots complete guide
Read more about potted olive tree care

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Conclusion

Greek Kalamata olive tree is like having a piece of the Greek Isles, right in your backyard or on your patio. And when it’s pot or container-grown, it will remain compact, measuring 8 to 15 feet (2.4 – 4.5 m) at full maturity.

Also, its Kalamata olives are one of the most known in the world due to their quality, rich texture, distinct superior taste. They named King olives are widely used in cooking and as an ingredient in Mediterranean dishes and other cuisines.

In case you are looking for an evergreen tree, consider Kalamata olive tree that is easy to grow and very hardy tree!

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