What you need to know about planting and maintaining your avocados – Part 2
Planting, fertilisation, and orchard layout are all vital aspects of avocado farming. Proper irrigation, as well as weed control, also need to be considered. In order to run a profitable business, you’ll need to be aware of the pests and diseases that avocado trees are susceptible to in South Africa. You can buy all the machinery and equipment you’ll need to start your avocado journey on AgriMag.
Layout of orchards
Avocado orchards can be set out with a rectangular, square or diamond-shaped pattern. When you’re planning the layout of your orchard, you’ll need to consider the type of avocado you’re growing as well as the position of your orchard. Soil type and thinning practices also need to be included in your decision. Don’t forget to plan machinery access depending on what type of equipment you need to use.
Avocado trees should be hardened off before you buy them and you should plant them as soon as possible. Avoid positioning the trees in the sun when they are still in the containers as their roots could become burnt. Use props to support the young trees and make sure that you take off any nursery tags prior to planting them. The soil should already have been prepared adequately so that big holes are not required for planting. Make sure that the trees are slightly raised so that water-logging of the soil is discouraged.
Leaf analysis and fertilisation
Leaf analysis and fertilisation are an important aspect of avocado farming. Performing a leaf analysis gives you information on the nutritional requirements of the trees, which is useful information to have during the fertilisation process. To ensure the reliability of the recommendations, you’ll need to take samples of 6 to 8-month-old leaves between February and April. The initial leaf sample must be supported by a soil sample after which a yearly soil sample should be made. Both the data from the soil and the leaf must be considered when making decisions about fertilisation. It’s important to note that healthy leaves should be used as a sample. When the time comes time to fertilise the trees in your orchard, you can use the data you have gathered to inform your decisions. Young avocado trees should not be fertilised in the year after they’ve been transplanted as they need to become well rooted in the soil first. Fertiliser should not be applied close to the stems of young trees and once you’ve applied the fertiliser, you should irrigate the area. Nitrogen should be applied during July, December, and April while potassium should be applied in December. Zinc and boron should be applied once a year according to the needs of your orchards.
Proper irrigation is vital for successful avocado farming as both waterlogging and drought have a negative impact on the chances of them thriving. Irrigation aims to maintain the ideal soil-moisture content so that these conditions are avoided. The exception is June and July when the soil-moisture content needs to be reduced in order to promote flowering. Half the usual amount of water should be applied during this period. After this period, normal irrigation is resumed to promote fruit growth. A dragline sprinkler system is an effective option for avocado farming. Daily-flow variations with microjet irrigation are best suited for this application.
You can control weeds using mechanical or chemical strategies. You’ll need the right equipment if you want to remove the weeds mechanically. Hand slashing is one option and another suitable method is ploughing and ripping. You can also use herbicides to prevent the growth of weeds.
Dealing with pests and diseases
Pest and diseases present a serious threat to avocado farming. Local farmers should be especially wary of two insects as well as four diseases. Biological pest control is the preferred method of many farmers. Young and older avocado fruit are at risk from fruit flies. The leaves of avocado trees are at risk for infection by heart-shaped scale. Wasps, ladybirds, lacewing and fly larvae can be used to hinder these pests naturally. Avocado trees are at a high risk for root rot, which can be avoided by making sure that you do not plant trees in waterlogged soil. The use of sprinkler or microjet irrigation also helps to ensure that water does not remain on the surface of the soil, which increases the risk of root rot. Other diseases to watch out for are stem canker and anthracnose.
Now that you know everything you need to about planting and maintaining your avocado farm, click here to read our previous article about the basics of starting your avocado farm. You can then head on over to the AgriMag website for all the machinery and equipment you will need.