Avocado Farming Best Practices




For one to be able to realize a bumper harvest from your Avocado, a number of measures have to be observed to be able to achieve optimal harvest. Apart from rearing nurseries where we opt to give only the very best avocado seedlings to local and international farmers, Lake Kanyaboli Nurseries has also embarked on best practice training sessions to all farmers who interested in Avocado Farming in order to ensure best returns for investment.


Propagation

Avocado trees are propagated through grafting, which means the stem of one avocado variety is spliced onto another avocado variety. The technique yields quicker harvests, consistent fruit quality and disease-resistant avocado trees. Pollination, climate, soil, water and diseases are among variables that affect growing a healthy, fruitful avocado tree.


Pollination

If, however, you want to harvest your own avocado fruits, then more than one avocado tree must be planted. An avocado tree needs to cross-pollinate with another variety of avocado tree for optimal fruit set. Although avocado flowers have both male and female flower parts, each part functions at a different time during the day. Avocado trees are grouped into Type A and Type B, depending on the time of day their male and female flower parts are reproductively viable. Planting a Type A tree and a Type B tree increases successful pollination if enough insect pollinators, such as bees, are present.


Soil, Humidity

An avocado tree can grow successfully in a variety of soil types and in soil with acidic or alkaline pH levels, but the tree requires soil that has good drainage. It declines in poorly draining and saline soil. Although an avocado tree cannot tolerate wet soil, it needs at least 1 inch of water every week during periods of insufficient rainfall.

Avocados are highly adapted to different rainfall conditions, however, the rain should be an average of 1,000–1,600mm per annum and well-distributed throughout the year. Irrigation is essential where rainfall is not adequate. Although an avocado tree cannot tolerate wet soil, it needs at least 25mm of water every week during periods of insufficient rainfall such as in eastern Kenya.

Too much rain during flowering leads to shedding of flowers resulting in significant reduction in production. Fungal diseases also normally become problematic in very wet weather. A short period of dry weather of up to two months usually triggers flowering especially in tropical climates not subject to marked falls in temperature.

The avocado tree needs high relative humidity at flowering (70-80 per cent), then moderate levels during the fruit swelling stage. Too much humidity encourages the proliferation of pests and diseases such as thrips, scales, cercospora spot, scab and anthracnose.


Avocado Planting + Spacing

The high-density plantation is helpful in giving higher production but the high-density plantation of the avocado tree may lead to problems in the canopy management in the later years of cultivation. So, these should be planted at a good distance for healthy production of fruits.

Usually, a spacing of 10 X 10 meters to 12 X 12 meters is adopted for the commercial avocado cultivation. With this spacing, one can easily plant trees, around 100 trees or plants per hectare land.

However, it is also possible to grow about 300 plants and even more than it with the help of high-density plantation such as 12 x 6m, 8 x 4 m, 10 x 5 m, for higher production of fruits. But, it requires the use of hedging machines and also of growth controlling sprays in the cultivation.


Mulching

Mulch the grown tree with 4 to 6 inches of coarse mulch, such as 2-inch redwood mulch. Pull the mulch 6 inches away from the tree's trunk. The majority of the avocado tree's roots are in the top 6 inches of soil; mulch helps slow evaporation of water and protects the tender roots from the hot sun. Let the fallen leaves stay on the ground as additional mulch.


Fertilizer

To obtain good growth and high fruit yields, it is important to supply the necessary nutrients. Several factors should be taken into account when deciding on fertilizer rates.

The existing fertility of the soil should be determined. The age of the trees, fruit yields, the physical and chemical characteristics as a function of climate, determine nutrient losses through leaching, which affects uptake by the trees.

It is advisable not to top-dress with nitrogen in the first four to five months after transplanting. After this period, 60g of 26 per cent of Nitrate (N) fertiliser should be applied every three months when the soil is moist. About 15 to 30kg of well-rotten farm yard manure (FYM) should also be spread around the tree. The use of FYM is strongly recommended for young orchards since it improves physical characteristics of the soil and supplies nutrients to trees, promoting the uptake of micro-nutrients.


Pruning

Prune the tree to shape it, maintain the height or remove broken or freeze-damaged limbs. Remove any growth that appears below the graft, including leaves and root sprouts. Avoid heavy pruning.


Diseases

Avocado root rot is the most serious disease of avocado trees. This disease, which is caused by the pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi, thrives in poor drainage conditions. Pale leaves, wilted leaves, branch die-back and small fruits are consequences. Applying a layer of gypsum and a 4- to 6-inch layer of an organic, coarse mulch underneath the avocado tree's canopy but several inches from the tree's trunk supplies calcium and suppresses the development of root rot.

Anthracnose, caused by the pathogen Colletotrichum gloeosporioides, infects an avocado tree's fruit, flowers, small branches and foliage, leaving spots, lesions and decay. This disease thrives in areas of high humidity. Pruning limbs to at least 2 feet off the ground increases air circulation at the base of the tree and raking debris from underneath the tree prevent overwintering pathogens.


Fight against Pests

Rabbit Urine is proven to be one of the best deterrent to pests that attack avocado seedlings and Avocado trees in general. Lake Kanyaboli Nurseries has invested heavily on Rabbit Rearing to be able to supply farmers with Rabbit Urine at very cost-effective rates. You can get in touch with our farm manager and get your required supplies of Rabbit Urine - dependent on the size of your farm and / or number of avocado trees you are tending to.