Fruit and Oil Characteristics of Three Main Syrian Olive Cultivars Grown under Different Climatic Conditions
The recent expansion in olive (Olea europaea L.) production in Syria to less favorable areas implies the need for comprehensive studies of cultivars on the characteristics of oil produced in these marginal environments. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of different environments on the characteristics of olive oil of three main Syrian cultivars ('Sorani', 'Zeiti', and 'Qaisi') in three different stabilization zones classified based on their rainfall; Zone 1>350 mm, Zone 3: 250-300 mm and Zone 4: 200-250 mm. Among these zones, summer temperatures are highest in Zone 4 and lowest in Zone 1. In each zone, three trees of each cultivar that were managed under no water stress conditions were selected. Fruit samples were taken every two weeks from mid-October until fruit ripening. Fruit weight, pulp/pit ratio, oil content, acidity, peroxide value, and fatty acid composition were determined. Fruit ripening in the three cultivars was earliest in Zone 4, followed by Zone 3 and Zone 1. Fruit weight and pulp/pit ratio at harvest were highest in Zone 1. Oil content at harvest was slightly lower in Zone 4 for the cultivars 'Sorani' and 'Zeiti' but was not affected in the case of 'Qaisi'. On the other hand, oleic acid content was highest and acidity lowest in the samples taken from Zone 3. Our results on fruit weight and oil content showed that the 'Qaisi' cultivar was the least affected by the harsh climatic conditions prevalent in Syrian Zone 4. These results show that for trees that are not subjected to water-stress, good-quality olive oil can be produced in marginal dry areas.