John Emett, Orchard Management and Grower Services, South Auckland and Northland

Far and Mid North
Maturity testing is happening across quite a number of orchards in the Far North and at the time of writing one orchard has been harvested for the New Zealand market. The fruit came off a young orchard that was first to market last season as well. Maturity results are indicating that this season will be more in line with levels over the past few years rather than the exceptional early season we had last year.

Not only are maturities in line with historical dates, the range of maturity in individual fruit is in a much tighter range, again what we have seen typically in past seasons.

Pest levels are low, but keep an eye on six spotted mite and plan your sprays accordingly.

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First tray of Northland fruit packed for the new season.

Pruning young trees
I have been asked to give advice on pruning young trees several times over the last month. By young I mean no older than two years old.

The most common problem I came across is when one or two, and sometimes up to four branches coming out close to the graft have been left. Clonal trees in particular will throw branches in this area. These branches then dominate the central leader of the tree and will lead to poor tree structure as the tree grows in subsequent years. They quickly become a much greater diameter than the central leader if left. Nip these branches off as soon as they appear, or remove them with a sharp pruning saw if they are a year or two old.

Young trees also struggle if they have weed competition to deal with as well. If using a herbicide, be careful around the soft bark on the trunk. Spray guards are a good idea. Also, a layer of mulch will keep moisture in and weeds down. A layer of about 100mmm thick is ideal.

If you need further advice on young tree care and nutrition just ask Kyra or I.

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Nicely mulched trees.

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Trees competing with weeds.

As the new harvest season looms now is a good time to ensure you have all your compliance and export registrations up to date. Avocado New Zealand will be rolling out a new version of the spray diary shortly. As you finish harvest you will be able to start using the new version.

Industry resources
The New Zealand Avocado website is full of useful information for growers. I am as guilty as anyone at not taking advantage of this. I encourage you to login and start having a look around particularly under the “Grow” tab https://industry.nzavocado.co.nz/grow/.

Water testing
a quick reminder that if it is a few years since you had your water tested you should look at getting it done again. The testing kit is available from Hills Laboratories and will check for the presence of e-coli and faecal coliforms.

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Water testing kit.