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National Department of Agriculture
Institute of Natural Resources (an Associate of the University of Natal)
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avoca-30.JPG (11259 bytes) Growing avocados

Avocados are very rich in protein and minerals as well as oil. Trees grown from seed produce fruit after 7 to 10 years (grafted trees after 2 years).

Where do avocados grow best?

• Avocados grow best in high-rainfall areas, near the coast or where no frost occurs.

• A warm sunny place which is sheltered from the wind is best.

• They will also grow in cooler areas but the fruit will take longer to ripen.

Kinds of fruits and trees (cultivars)

Cultivar When does the fruit ripen? Will it grow in cool areas?
Edranol August/September Yes
Fuerte  fuerte.gif (23769 bytes) April to August Yes
Hass hass.gif (16911 bytes) September to November Yes
Itzamma October to December No
Nabal September to November   _
Ryan November to January _
Carton February/March Yes
Shapless September and October _

Soil requirements

• Avocados prefer deep soil which is well drained.

• Water must not remain in the soil after rain.

• Avocados have very sensitive roots and will rot if there is too much water in the soil.

Planting date

Plant avocados in summer.

Growing avocados from seeds

• Take a seed from an old avocado tree. This should not be a modern grafted tree. It should be an old tree grown from seed.

• Use a large plastic bag or a large tin and fill it with a mixture of compost and soil.

• Take the brown skin off the seed.

• Push the seed into the soil. The pointed end must be facing upwards. Just a small part of the pointed end must stick out of the soil.

• Cover the soil with mulch.

• Water daily.

• When the tree reaches knee height plant it in the garden.

• Keep the soil around the roots when you plant it.

Spacing

Avocado trees grow very big and should therefore be planted at least 7 metres away from other trees.

Planting

• Dig a hole about twice the size of the bag in which the young tree is growing.

• Remove the soil from the hole and add some compost and manure. Mix this with some of the soil that has been dug out.
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• Take the plant out of the plastic bag by cutting it open at the side.

• Do not disturb the roots.

• Place the tree in the centre of the hole. When you fill the hole hold the tree so that its base is level with the surrounding ground.
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• Raise the soil around the tree to dam the water (rain or irrigation).

 

Water

• Water the young trees every 3 to 4 weeks during the dry season.

• It is important to keep the soil mulched all the time so that it does not dry out.

• Replace the mulch after it has broken down.

Fertilisation

Manure or compost

Avoid using chicken manure on trees younger than 2 years.

Year 1 Give the tree bucketful every 3 months.
Year 2 Give bucketful in July, at the end of December, and in April.

Each year ADD bucketful in July, at the end of December, and in April until the tree is 10 years old and from then on continue to give it 5 bucketfuls every July, at the end of December and in April.

Artificial fertilisers

You must always water the trees after you have applied fertiliser.

Year 1 Give the tree 1 tablespoonful (30 g) LAN (limestone ammonium nitrate) every 2 months.
Year 2 Give the tree 5 tablespoonfuls (150 g) 2:3:2 in July, at the end of December and in April. Also give it 2 tablespoonfuls (60 g) Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) in April.
Year 3 Give the tree 10 tablespoons (300 g) 2:3:2 in July, at the end of December and in April. In April give it 2 tablespoons (60 g) of Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate).
Year 4 Give the tree 2 oil tin canfuls (500 ml each) and 12 tablespoonfuls (1 kg + 350 g) of 2:3:2 in July, at the end of December and in April. In April, also give it 2 tablespoonfuls (60 g) Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate).
Years 5 to 10 Continue to add 5 tablespoonfuls (150 g) MORE of 2:3:2 every July, at the end of December and in April. Continue to give it 2 tablespoonfuls (60 g) of Epsom salts in April.
From year 10 Give the tree 5 tablespoonfuls (150 g) of 3:1:5 in July, at the end of December and in April.

 

Pruning and thinning

Avocado trees do not need to be pruned or thinned out. Some varieties such as Hass, however, grow very tall. Therefore, you can cut the top ends of the main branches. This will make the tree branch instead of growing taller so that you can reach the fruit more easily.

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• The fruit only ripens after it is picked. 

• To test if the fruit is ready, pick a few of the big ones and leave them. If they start to feel soft after 8 to 10 days without shrivelling, you can pick the other big ones. If they shrivel, they are not ripe yet.

ARC_log0.JPG (2644 bytes) For further information contact the ARC-Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Crops, Private Bag X11208, Nelspruit 1200, tel (013) 753 071 or
the Institute of Natural Resources, Private Bag X01, Scottsville 3209, tel (0331) 46 0796

 

1999

Compiled by Directorate Communication, National Department of Agriculture
in cooperation with
Institute of Natural Resources (an Associate of the University of Natal) and ARC-Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Crops
Printed and published by National Department of Agriculture
and obtainable from
Resource Centre, Directorate Communication, Private Bag X144, Pretoria 0001, South Africa

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