In March 2016, we established an Avocado Nursery with the capacity for 70,000 trees.
A GRAFTING AVO SEEDLINGS IN THE FIELD
Sometimes we can feel quite isolated from what’s going on in the rest of the Avo world. Perhaps other countries feel the same.
The whole of Latin America continues to develop their Avocado industry at a rapid rate, and 99% of their plantings are on seedling rootstocks, where hundreds and thousands of seeds are planted, mostly in seed beds. As the seeds germinate, the strongest, most vigorous seeds are selected and planted into bags. Up to 50% of the original seed sourced is culled, at the seed and then the young seedling stage.
During my trip to the World Avocado Congress in September last year, we visited Avo nurseries and examined Avo trees from nurseries in both Columbia and Peru. All the trees we saw were on good, strong seedling rootstocks, mostly from West Indian seed.
My farm Amorentia Estate in Politsi has flourished from trees on seedling rootstocks for more than 50 years, with above average yields.
The other distinct advantage of growing Avos on seedling rootstocks is that seedlings have a taproot and are more sturdy in the field. Respectfully, cloned Avo trees should be grown on ridges, whereas seedlings are not so fussy.
What is critical for the serious Avo farmer, is to pay attention to the fundamentals when establishing an Avo orchard.
Google: The Golden Mile, Ken PeggWheel, for some insights into the establishment of a good Avo orchard.
Here in SA, there are simply not enough good quality Avo nursery trees being produced to fulfil the demand in our vibrant industry.
While attending the World Avo Conference in Peru last year, it became abundantly clear that there remains a 20-year window of opportunity for further Avo orchard development. Demand for this “Super Food” continues to outstrip supply in all corners of the world. And China and India haven’t yet started eating Avos yet.
With the on-going shortage of Avo nursery trees, the inevitability of ‘rats and mice’ nurseries popping up everywhere is a danger to our industry.
With the very best intentions, local farmers, frustrated with a shortage of trees, plant a whole lot of Avo seeds, graft some and sell the rest.
Farmers wishing to buy seedling Avo trees should check VERY carefully what procedures and protocols were followed in the growing of any Avo seedlings being made available to growers, from small-scale nurseries.
What is of great interest though, is that in most areas of Avo development in South America there are very few formal, commercial Avo Nurseries producing grafted trees. More and more, it has become the norm to plant the ungrafted seedling Avo tree directly into the orchard and within 6 months, to graft the seedling in the field.
Avos are easy to graft, and once the strong, well-grown seedling has established itself, the grafts take well.
All Avo growers in Peru and we are now doing this on our Avo development in Central Mozambique, are planting a few maize seeds in a half circle on the Western side of the tree around each Avo seedling two months before planting the seedling out in the field. The maize grows up and forms a wind and sun shield around each tree allowing the young Avo seedling the protection it requires, as it settles in the field, later on, the maize is cut and used as excellent mulch. See the pictures on the Amorentia website: www.amorentia.co.za
Please contact me directly for a copy of a PowerPoint Presentation of such a seedling Avo project, where the seedlings were grafted in the field.
Growers can empower themselves not to feel so isolated and thereby upgrade their knowledge on how to confidently buy the best quality Avo seedling from reputable Avo nurseries and plant them out in the orchard. Then one can select the variety you require and confidently graft the young seedlings growing in the orchard.
This process works very well. All it requires is a change of mindset.
The World Avocado Congress
We presented a paper at the World Avocado Congress in Peru in 2015 where we witnessed the ever-expanding and ever- modernising Avocado industry in action.
We are excited to be part of the International Avocado community and to share the innovations of the seedling root-stock orchard industry