The basics of getting started with avocado farming – Part 1
Are you interested in avocado farming? From choosing the right climate to preparing the soil properly, there are plenty of factors to consider when you embark on this agricultural enterprise. Limpopo and Mpumalanga are both important regions in South Africa when it comes to avocado farming, while some sections of KwaZulu-Natal are also suitable for growing these crops. With eight months to prepare for avocado season, you have plenty of time to get a better understanding of how to get started with avocado farming.
Different types of avocados
The two main types of avocados that are grown locally include Hass and Fuerte. The export market to Europe favours Hass, which has resulted in an increased production of this type of avocado. Fuerte has excellent potential and can cope with lower temperatures. The disadvantage of this type of avocado is that its fruit is affected by the microclimate and it is prone to physiological problems while in storage. Hass thrives in cooler regions and produces smaller fruit in warmer conditions. These trees grow slowly and they can handle low temperatures. The Hass fruit does well in storage. The disadvantage of this type of avocado is that the size of the fruit decreases with age and in warmer climates. These trees are also affected by environmental factors.
The warm subtropical regions of Limpopo and Mpumalanga are suitable for avocado farming and these regions typically have high rainfall. Avocados are also grown in the cooler climate of KwaZulu-Natal. The season starts in March and extends until September. The climatic conditions that are required for avocado farming depend on the type of avocados that are being grown. These crops thrive in cool subtropical conditions that have an average temperature of 20°C to 24°C during the day. High levels of humidity are conducive to good crop growth, which means that mist-belt areas offer favourable conditions for growth.
Avocado farming requires generous levels of rainfall as water stress has a negative impact on their growth. Regions that have an annual rainfall of more than 1 000mm are preferable. The trees are sensitive to wind damage as their branches are brittle, a factor that needs to be taken into account when you are assessing whether the area is suitable for avocado farming or not.
Avocados require the kind of soil their roots can penetrate to a depth of 1m. The soil should also drain properly. If the soil does not meet these requirements, it will hinder the tree’s growth and put them at risk of root rot. The importance of the soil in the success of avocado farming means that the soil needs to be properly examined to assess its suitability for these crops. To check the soil, you’ll need to dig a hole of 1.5 metres for each hectare of land. In hilly sections of the land, additional holes will need to be made to check that there is sufficient drainage at different positions on the slope. Digging enables you to assess the colour and texture of the soil as well as its texture and structure. The soil needs to be somewhere between a reddish-brown and dark-brown colour with a clay content that falls within 20% to 40%. The soil must be loosened before planting. Acidic soil may require heavy lime applications to create the right conditions for avocados to thrive. In these instances, agricultural lime must be mixed into the topsoil a year prior to planting. Planting a cover crop which can be ploughed into the soil helps to improve the soil’s organic matter content.
Now that you know the basics of avocado farming, you can find equipment for sale on AgriMag. Investing in good quality equipment is an important aspect of setting up a successful agricultural enterprise. Be sure to come back next week for part two on avocado farming. You don’t want to miss out!