TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL HASS AVOCADO FARMING.
Avocado farming is a long-term project, with initial high costs at planting, followed by a 2-5 year wait for the trees to come into production. To reap healthy rewards, it is essential to do a full risk assessment before you start and maintain a healthy plantation that gives top yields for many years. The hass avocado is the most popular Kenyan avocado produced mainly for export purposes. It has a good market in continents such as Europe compared to other types of avocados.
It is advisable to plant the trees in straight lines to facilitate crop husbandry and harvesting. In Kenya, the rectangular pattern of planting is preferred for hass avocados, as it eases movement of machinery in between rows as well as other activities such as inspection, thinning, and pruning.
Tree spacing depends on several factors such as soil fertility and climatic conditions. Spacing may range from 6m by 7m to 8m by 10m.
The planting holes should be around 60 cm to 70 cm. Take soil samples when digging holes while taking care not to mix the topsoil with the subsoil. Collect samples of the top soil at a depth of between 5cm to 15cm and repeat this process for subsoil at a depth of below 16 cm. Send the two samples to oxfarm organic for a soil test.
Use about two buckets of farmyard manure properly mixed with top soil, 250gm of double superphosphate fertilizer, and a certified insecticide to fill the planting holes. Planting should be done after the onset of rains when rainwater has properly penetrated the soil. When filling up the holes, do not damage the roots. Irrigate the newly planted Hass avocado trees or seeds preferably until the first shoots appear. Tie the young plants to sticks to support them.
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. Farmers should ensure that they have access to enough water year-round as droughted avocado trees die fast. Irrigation water quality should be tested. High pH and bicarbonates create a free lime build up in the soil. High salts, sodium and chloride have a very negative affect on the plants.
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
Pest and diseases
The best economical way for pest and disease control is pest prevention. In Kenya, avocado trees can be affected by pests but rarely do they need chemical application for control. However, some of the major pests include; Night flying moth Scale insects Thrip.
The common fungal diseases that may affect avocado trees and need to be checked are;
- Anthracnose –it attacks fruits, forming dry, dark brown spots. It is most likely to attack mature fruits. It can be controlled using copper-based fungicides. Chemicals such as Benomyl, Metiram, Propineb, Thiabendazole, Mancozeb or Triforine may also be sprayed to control the disease.
- Root rot– mostly found in areas with poorly drained soils and areas prone to flood. Preventive measures include use of fungal and hot water treatment of seeds and grafting on resistant rootstalk. The chemicals used to combat this disease are, Ridomil, active ingredient Metalaxyl. It is a granular formulation applied in the soil. The second chemical is known as Alitte and is applied on the leaves.
- Scab– this disease attacks fruits, leaves and the twigs. Scratches emerge as little dark spots a little raised and are oval or extended. This disease is controlled using the same methods as those of Anthracnose.
- Cercospora– also known as fruit spot. It leaves small light yellow spots which eventually turn brownish on the leaves and fruits. It is also controlled using similar methods to Anthracnose
To know more about Hass avocado farming, to test your soil, for a Hass avocado package, for Hass avocado seedlings or for any help planning your avocado farming program please contact us via 0712 075 915/0783 710 808.
Our website is www.oxfarmorganic.co.ke