LUCQUES – OIL VARIETY
It is a cultivar that mainly grown in the Languedoc region in France. It is an olive suitable for both table use and high-quality oil production.
Lucques owes its French name to the city where it originated, the Italian province of Lucca (Lucques in French). Today it is primarily associated with southern France, where it is mainly spread.
It is also commonly known as Picholine.
Lucques is the most spread oil cultivar of France. It is mainly used to produce olive oil. It was originally spread in the region of Gard, in southern France, although nowadays it is more common in Provence and other parts of France and Italy; it is popular in other countries as well, such as Morocco, Israel, Chile and in the USA.
This quite vigorous tree is medium-sized, its growth habit is quite dense, spreading, open and slightly erect; however, it looks shorter when full of fruits. It has a medium rooting ability. Inflorescences have a medium length and a medium number of olive-blossoms. Harvesting takes place in October and November, when the fruits are still green, in order to use then as table olives. If harvested for oil production, they are picked later, after veraison. Farmers decide what harvesting time is the best: an early one gives a fruity flavour, while a later one gives a sweeter flavour.
Lucques has a pulp that easily detaches from the stone, so it is very popular as a cocktail olive; in this case, they are lye cured, then fermented in brine for a year, which gives them a slightly salty flavour.
It has quite an early starting age of fructification and a late ripening, and has a good and constant production. It can also well adapt to different soils and climates.
It is generally acknowledged that it is only partly a self-fertile tree, so it can take advantage of a certain number of pollinators, such as Bouteillan, Leccino, Lucques, Manzanilla and Sigoise.
It is sensitive to some organic pests, like the Gloeosporium olivarum, the Liothrips oleae and the jasmine moth. It is quite sensitive to cold: while an adult tree can bear temperatures up to -12 or -14 °C, younger specimen need far higher temperatures in order to survive. This can be a problem in the regions of Gard and Provence, where Winters are often harsh.
It is also used for oil production, a high-quality one; yield is medium, usually around 19-21%, and in case of plants that live in well-watered areas, only around 15-18%. Oil flavour is fruity, with bitter and spicy hints.