Avocado Cultivation Guide:
Introduction to Avocado Cultivation:- Avocado which is popularly known as ‘butter fruit’ and used to grow along the fences to protect other crops in orchards. However, it has now emerged as a prime cash crop in most of the region due to its low production costs and high yields (returns). Avocado is a native to tropical American region and it said to be originated in Mexico and Central America. Avocado is a single seeded fruit belongs to the species of P.americana. Avocados are commercially valuable fruits that are grown in tropical and Mediterranean climatic conditions throughout the world. Mexico is the top producer of Avocados. The Avocado tree grows up to 20 meter (60 feet) tall and long leaves. When it comes to fruit description, these fruits are green skinned with fleshy in nature. The shape of Avocado fruit is available in pear shaped, egg shaped, and spherical shape and it weighs between 100 grams to 800 grams depending on variety. Avocado plants are partially self-pollinating and are usually propagated through grafting to maintain quality and quantity of Avocado fruit. Avocado farming start-up cost and its maintenance is low when compared to other fruit crops hence there is a good chance of getting decent returns with commercial avocado cultivation. Avocados can be grown indoors, pots, containers. As these trees go bigger, they need to be replanted several times. Avocados grown in containers can make attractive foliage plants indoors. In the following article let us discuss more about “Avocado cultivation” which involves of planting to harvest.
Scientific Name or Botanical Name of Avocado:- Persea Americana.
Family Name of Avocado:- Lauraceae.
Genus of Avocado Plant:- Persea.
Common Names of Avocado:- Avokado (Afrikaans), Avocado (Dutch, German), Awokado (Polish), Αβοκάντο (Greek), Abokado (Korean), Cowlo (Nepali), Avokaado (Estonian), Aguacate (Spanish), awokado (Thai), abukado (Filipino), Avocado / Persea americana (Italian), Bo (Vietnamese), a-bu-kha-lo (Chinese), abacate (Portuguese), avokÃ¡do (Czech), Aligatapera (Sinhalese), Abokado (Japanese), Avocatier (French), avocado (Romanian), Avokado (Swedish), Avokado (Turkish), avokado (Danish), Avokádó (Hungarian), avokado / apukado (Malay), Neerabijh (Sanskrit), afukaadu (Arabic), Авокадо (Russian), avokado (Latvian).
Avocado in Indian Languages:- Butter Fruit / Makhanphal (Hindi), Vennai Pazham (Tamil), Vennapazham / വെണ്ണപ്പഴം (Malayalam), Alpukat (Marathi), Mager Nashpati (Urdu), Benne Hannu (Kannada), Venna Pandu (Telugu), আভাকাডো (Bengali), Nashpati (Oriya), ਮਖਣ ਫਲ (Punjabi), and Makhan Phal (Gujarati).
World Top 10 Production Countries of Avocado:- The following are the top ten production countries of Avocado.
- Dominican Republic
Health Benefits and Uses of Avocado:- The following are some of the health benefits of Avocado.
- Avocados are good for diabetes
- Avocados may relieve from arthritis symptoms
- Avocados are good for pregnant women
- Avocado fruits prevent from constipation as it is loaded with fiber
- Avocado fruits help in lowering cholesterol & triglyceride levels hence reduce the risk of stroke
- Avocados are excellent for weight loss
- Avocado fruits are good for skin health
- Avocado fruits are good for eye health as they are good source of anti-oxidants.
- Avocados may prevent from certain type of cancers
- Avocados are good for regulating blood pressure
- Avocadoes are good for overall health
- Nutrition values in Avocado: Avocado fruits are very nutritious and consumption of these result inn over all good health.
- For 100 grams serving size of Avocado:
- Folate: 20%
- Vitamin K: 26%
- Vitamin ‘C’: 17%
- Potassium: 14%
- Vitamin ‘B5’: 14%
- Vitamin ‘B6’: 13%
- Vitamin ‘E’: 10%
- Other minerals: B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin) and B3 (Niacin), Vitamin ‘A’, Magnesium, Manganese, Copper, Iron, Zinc, and Phosphorous.
- Calories: 160
- Protein : 2 grams
- Healthy fats: 15 grams
- Carbohydrates: 9 grams (7 of those are fiber, so there are only 2 “net” carbohydrates, hence it is considered as low-carb fruit)
- For 100 grams serving size of Avocado:
Varieties (Cultivars) of Avocado:- There are three races of avocados; Mexican, Guatemalan and West Indian. Each race has distinctive features, cross-pollination permits the development of unlimited varieties.
- Mexican race: This race varieties are hardiest of the group and the most tolerant of cold conditions.
- Guatemalan race: This is from the tropical highlands and it requires a cool tropical climate without extremes of humidity and temperature.
- West Indian race: It is originated in the humid low lands of tropical Central America.
There are many improved and high yielding varieties, you should find out suitable variety for your local conditions.
Climate Requirement for Avocado Cultivation:- Climate is one of major cultivation practices that influence the profitability in any crop. Commercial farming of Avocados requires cool and subtropical conditions with average daily temperatures between 18 °C and 25 °C. The temperature requirement may vary from one cultivar (variety) to another. However, all the cultivars require above 14°C. Avocados require high humid conditions during flowering and fruit set. The avocado trees should be protected from strong winds and hot dry winds as it may lead to breakage of branches or flowers and fruit drop. Avocados can be grown at an altitude of 2500 meters above sea level. A well evenly distributed annual rainfall of 1200 mm is desirable for avocado trees. Avocados are sensitive to frost conditions especially at flowering and fruit set stage. Water stress should be avoided at the time of flowering and fruit set.
Soil Requirement for Avocado Cultivation:- Fertile soil is always desirable for any crop to obtain good yields and quality produce. If you are planning for commercial production of Avocados, a soil test is recommended to find out the chemical suitability of the soil and based on results; the required nutrients/micro-nutrients should be supplemented. The Avocado trees require fertile and well-drained soils with good aeration, ideally more than 1 meter deep. Only reddish brown, red and dark brown soils, particularly in the subsoil, are more suitable for Avocado cultivation. However, Avocado tress prefers medium sandy loam soils with a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5. Water logging conditions should be avoided and when it comes to soil texture, Avocado trees thrive best in soils with clay content between 20-40%.
Land Preparation in Avocado Cultivation:- A thorough land preparation is important inn Avocado cultivation. Prepare the land by clearing off any weeds, dead trees and other material from previous crops. Give couple of ploughings and cross-harrowing to get the soil to fine tilth stage using local tractor or any other country plough.
Propagation, Planting and Spacing in Avocado Cultivation:- The most common method of Avocado tree propagation is done by grafting or budding as they don’t grow true type from seed. Apart from this, grafting method ensures uniformity and early bearing. It is advised to plant the Avocados during monsoon season (onset of rains) for proper and quick establishment of seedlings. Avoid to plant a new avocado tree in a space where an old tree died because there may be a disease in the soil.
As we know high density planting gives more yield in early years and this HD planting of avocado also causes more canopy management problems in later years. In general 10 to 12 meters of spacing is adopted in avocado orchards. This can accommodate 70 to 100 trees/ha. However, in recent years, there is a practice of high density plantation ( 12 x 6m, 10 x 5 m, 8 x 4 m, which can accommodate 140 to 310 trees /ha) of avocado since the introduction of mechanical hedging machines and growth controlling sprays are available.
Pollinations in Avocado Cultivation:- An avocado trees require to cross-pollination with another variety for best fruit set. Although avocado flowers have both male & female flower parts, each part functions at a different time during the day. Generally .the Avocado trees are grouped into Type ‘A’ and Type ‘B. Planting both Type ‘A’ tree and Type ‘B’ trees increase successful pollination if enough insect pollinators like bees are present.
Irrigation in Avocado Cultivation:- Frequency of irrigations depends on many factors such as soil moisture retaining capacity, climate, and tree age. As soon as transplanting the Avocado plants are done, they required to be watered immediately for proper settlement in the soil. An Irrigation should be carried out alternate days for 1 week after transplanting. Subsequently, watering should be done 1 to times a week for couple of months depending on soil moisture and climate. Do not water in rainy season and avoid over watering as it is the main cause failure of the crop which results in root rot disease. Avocados require well-drainage in case of heavy rains and water logging conditions should be avoided. The best irrigation method for these trees is drip-irrigation. You can install drip irrigation in avocado orchard for best water/fertilizer utilization. This method of irrigation also regulates the growth of weeds at plant base.
Manures and Fertilizers in Avocado Cultivation:- Application manures and fertilizers are very important in Avocado cultivation as these trees responds very well to manures. The manures and fertilizer rate depends on several factors such as soil fertility, fruit yields, age of trees, and climatic conditions. It is recommended no to top-dress the plants with nitrogen (N) during initial 4 to 5 months after transplanting the seedlings. After this period, 60 grams (26%) of Nitrogen (N) should be applied at each tree for every 3 months. Make sure to have moisture in soil while applying the fertilizers. When it comes organic fertilizers, a well-decomposed farm yard manure (FMY) of 20 kg to 30 kg should be applied (spread) around the tree.
Intercultural Operations in Avocado Cultivation:-
- Weeding: Weed free field is important to obtain desired results in any crop. To control weeds, shallow cultivation can be carried out after transplanting the trees without damaging the roots. Mulching is another practice of controlling weeds in the orchard. If you find weeds are severe and unable to control through hand and machines, use appropriate herbicides to check the weeds completely.
- Pruning and Fruit Thinning: Avocado trees can be maintained to desired size with pinching and pruning. Frequent pinching of young trees is a good method to shape the avocado tree . It is recommend to prune trees and cut out dead wood after harvest. Thinning of fruits should be done in boom years to control biennial bearing and enhance fruit quality in early stages of growth.
- Intercropping: During initial years, legume crops or low growing vegetables can be cultivated between rows. This not only provides additional income but increases soil fertility as well.
Pests and Diseases in Avocado Cultivation:-
- Pests: Mealy bugs, mites and scale insects are common insect pests found in Avocado cultivation. These pests can be controlled by spraying recommended insecticides. For symptoms and control measures, contact your local horticulture department.
- Diseases: Root rot is most common disease found in Avocado cultivation. This is caused by Phytophthora cinnamon attack. This disease can be controlled by drenching the soil with recommended fungicide. Avoid Over irrigation to protect the trees from this disease. Other diseases include Cercospora spot, and Black spot which attack the leaves, roots and fruits. These diseases can be controlled by spraying copper fungicides. For exact symptoms and control measures of these diseases in avocado trees, contact your local horticulture department.
Note: Your local Horticulture Department is a good source for finding suitable solutions for controlling pests and diseases in Avocado Cultivation.
Harvesting in Avocado Cultivation:- Avocado fruits DON’T ripen on trees. Finding the right maturity stage is very important. So how can we identify the time to pick? Well, maturity of fruits are indicated when the part of the fruit stalk closest to the fruit turns black or brown. Hand clipping is the most common method of harvesting.
Post-Harvesting in Avocado Cultivation:- Trimming, cleaning, sorting, grading and waxing fruits are part of post-harvesting tasks to be performed before getting them to market. Pack the graded Avocados into cartons with good ventilation and transport to markets.
Yield in Avocado Cultivation:- Yield of Avocados depends on cultivar, age of tree, climate and soil along with other orchard management practices. On an average, one can obtain a yield of 14 to 15 tonnes/ha.