A prospecting campaign in the Maltese Islands has ensured the survival of several ancient olive trees (Olea europaea L.), genetically distant from known cultivars. Most of these plants were abandoned or partially cultivated. A two-year evaluation of fruit characteristics and compositions was performed on samples collected from the main representatives of these indigenous genotypes. Analyses were carried out using Gas Chromatography, High-Performance Liquid Chromatography and Near Infrared Spectrometry. Among the fruit samples, a wide range of variations was observed. Some of the genotypes showed fruit traits suitable for table olive production. This is the case of samples with a pulp/pit ratio higher than four, such as 1Wardija, 1Caritas, 1Plattini, 1Bingemma Malta and 3Loretu, whilst 1Bidni, 1Mellieha, 2Qnotta, 3Loretu, 1Bingemma Malta and 1Caritas were suitable for dual purpose. The total phenol content ranged from 6.3 (1Wardija) to 117.9 (2Mtarfa) g/kg of fresh pulp. The average percentage of MUFA was quite low for most of the varieties. These genotypes, which presumably originated in the Maltese Islands and are well adapted to the local pedo-climatic conditions, are being propagated for the following evaluation of their bio-agronomical performance (production, suitability to intensive cultivation, environmental sustainability, product quality, etc.). The purpose is to select, among these local genotypes, the most outstanding varieties, in terms of phenolic and FA profile and agronomical potential, to spread into cultivation, thereby contributing to an increase in the quality of the local table and olive oil production, strongly linked to the territory.
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