Kenya has over 40 varieties of avocado ,Hass is the main export variety and Fuerte is preferred for processing .other varieties commercial varieties are Keitt, Reed, Booth 8,simmonds, pinkerton, Nabal, Puebla, Tonnage, Ettinger, Hayes G6 and G7 varieties .used as rootstocks include puebla, Fuerte, Duke, G6 and G7
Avocado perform best between 1500-2100m A.S.L with 1000mm of well distributed rainfall
Avocado thrives in deep (about 1m of topsoil )permeable and free draining soil with adequate moisture retention and a PH of 5.5-6.5
Mulches and manure should be added to soils low in organic matter
Water logged soils favour the development of phytophthora root-rot diseases, it has very low tolerance to salinity if the PH is above 6.5 Gypsum my be used to lower it
Fuerte and Hass are typically spaced at 9×9m (120plants)/ha
PHOSPHATE AND MANURE
Prepare holes 60×60×60cm (length ×width ×depth ) a month before planting. Separate the top and subsoil mix the top soil with 20kg debe of decomposed Farm yard manure (FYM)and 120g of Double superphosphate (46% p2O5)with the top soil
Carefully remove the plant from the container with the soil intact and place it in the centre of the hole and cover firmly with the mixture of top soil and FYM. Make a basin around the seedling for holding water
Transplanting is more successful when carried out during the long rains either early morning or evening.
Plant the seedlings at the same depth as it was in the nursery and water the plant immediately after planting.
In hot areas shade the seedlings after transplanting.
Soil analysis must be done to determine the type and the rate of fertiliser to be applied before any recommendation is given
Quantity of manure and Fertilizer application is dependent on the soil fertility and the age of the plant
Nitrogen is the most important nutrient in Avocado.
Irrigation should be done when necessary to increase yield and spread production
Use water that has been tested and analysed in the laboratory
Avocado starts bearing within 3years after transplanting, peak harvest occurs between July and August.
MULCHING AND WEEDING
Mulching is undertaken to conserve moisture and to add organic matter to the soil . mulching will therefore Improve water retention of soil and subsequently promote avocado growth
Cultivate around the trees to keep them weed free
Note:Use of herbicides is not recommended
Apical bud of young plants should be nipped to slow growth and lead to compact tree. Lower branches that interfare with cultural activities including irrigation, Should be prunned .
Heavy pruning should only be carried out to reduce the size of the tree after 12 to 15 years of bearing.
Avocado orchards may be intercropped with other crops such as beans , peas kale or cabbages
during the first 3-5years to get economic returns from the land before the trees start bearing.
An avocado tree yields 230-320kg (7.5-1/ha) of fruit per year .
Grafted tress start bearing after 3-4years after planting but economical crop is obtainable from the sixth year,3-5years tree yields 300-400kg fruits per hectare while a tree older than 5years yields 800-1000kg fruits (80,000-100,000)fruits per hectare.
Avocado is harvested between April and September in Kenya since most varieties do not change colour on maturity, a few fruits should be picked and stored at room temperature for 7-10days ,if the soften without shrivelling then the fruit is ready for harvesting fruit should not be pulled from the stalk but be cut off leaving a 3cm stalk.
POST HARVEST METHODS INCLUDE
After harvesting avocados must be cooled as quickly as possible to the optimum storage temperature of 5`c for Fuerte and Hass varieties within 5 hours of harvesting.
GRADING AND PACKAGING
Avocado fruits are graded according to size and weight. Injured and diseased fruits should be removed.
The fruits are packed as per the orders and quality standards in 4kg cartons, after all debris soil and foreign particles are removed using a water bath this water must be changed periodically to avoid cross contamination, a fungicidal treatment (thiabendazole)at 300ml per 100L of water is used .
The fruits are waxed and dried in hot air ,Avocado fruits are stored in cold storage
The most important factors ensuring successful marketing are quality, packaging rapid adaptation of exports to seasonal fluctuations and changing market situations (supply and demand ).an intact logistical chain including proper cooling along the marketing chain and competitive prices.