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NZ avocado research leads the way

A new 4ha trial avocado orchard has been unveiled in Gisborne at a recent workshop for growers

NZ avocado research leads the way

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New avocado varieties and rootstocks, as well as a new experimental orchard, have been showcased at a workshop in Gisborne attended by 16 growers.

The development came about thanks to a partnership between New Zealand’s Avocado Industry Council (AIC) and Riversun Nursery.

The 4ha orchard in Matawhero features the latest in growing innovations, such as high-density spacing and high-mounded rows, the Gisborne Herald reported.

The high-mounded rows are an attempt to contain root growth, according to
Riversun managing director Geoff Thorpe, while high-density planting is a new trend that should result in the orchard reaching full production quicker.

"You might call it the ‘bonsai effect' - avocado trees have a tendency to grow wide and tall, and we’re trying to keep the trees smaller, which should result in significant cost savings in terms of management and harvesting," he said.

"One of our goals is to stress the trees a little to push them to fruit earlier."

According to Mr Thorpe, avocado growers still have to deal with conflicting views on how to best manage their trees, unlike growers of grapes, apples and pears.

"That's partly why we’re exploring a variety of methods in the same block - I’m not overly concerned if a few years down the track we end up pulling out some rows completely or have to replant some using the most successful methods," he said.

AIC chief executive Alan Thorn said growers were looking for more direction in the planning and managing of their orchards, and said more research was needed, with a joint investment of NZ$5m being set aside for the cause.

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