Narrow hedgerows system (NHS) is a new concept of olive orchards characterized by minimum labor requirements, continuous mechanical harvesting, early bearing, high yield, and olive oil quality. In this work, the variability of phenolic composition of virgin olive oils (VOOs) was studied in three cultivars (Arbequina, Arbosana, and Sikitita), two planting systems (NHS: 1975 trees/ha and intensive system (IS): 333 trees/ha) and different harvesting dates (1 October and 26 November for the three cultivars; and three additional dates for the new olive Sikitita: 16 and 29 October; and 12 November). Phenolic compounds were extracted from the obtained VOOs by liquid–liquid extraction with 60:40 v/v methanol/water. The resulting hydroalcoholic extract was analyzed by liquid chromatography – diode-array detector – fluorescence detection (LC-DAD-FD) for individual phenols separation–quantification. Significant differences among genotypes were found for some individual phenols at the first harvesting date. At the second harvesting date, significant differences were found between genotypes and between planting systems (p<0.05). According to the obtained results, the new Sikitita should be harvested at the beginning of the ripening period for obtaining VOO with high phenolic content. Finally, a global agronomic and oil compositional evaluation in NHS of the new cultivars bred specifically is needed for this new olive growing system.
Practical applications: Narrow hedgerow is a new very high density (>1500 trees/ha) olive planting system associated to overhead vineyard harvesters that is increasingly used as it reduces drastically both labor and time needed to harvest the crop. This study focuses on the comparison of the content of phenolic compounds in olive oils originated from narrow hedgerow system and intensive system. The results can be used to determine the best time for harvesting the new olive Sikitita, recently selected for narrow hedgerow system, in order to obtain an olive oil with high phenolic content.