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NZ Avocado R&D programme


The following is an update of each of the current projects and the outcomes delivered to date:

 

MBIE: AVOCADOS FOR EXPORT

ORCHARD ANALYSIS

Objective

  • Identifying irregular bearing triggers at regional and orchard level
  • Identifying factors that are contributing significantly to the productivity of the orchards.

Outcomes to date

  • Identified historic cold temperature periods as likely trigger of irregular bearing at regional and orchard levels in the Kauri Point area.
  • Analysis of historic performance suggests pruning has a positive impact on consistency of production.
  • Identified orchard performance does not necessarily correlate with location highlighting potential to improve performance through changes to management practices.

TEMPERATURE EFFECTS ON BUD, FLOWER & FRUITLET DEVELOPMENT

Objective

  • Variations of minimum temperature between orchards, parts of orchards and parts of trees.
  • Low temperature thresholds for bud, flower and fruitlet development

Outcomes to date

  • Defined temperature variability both between and within orchards in the Bay of Plenty. Differences are often correlated with topography and ability of cold air to drain.
  • There seems to be a strong correlation between the minimum temperatures of different locations on cold nights.
  • Methods have been developed to determine effect of low temperatures on fruit set.

 

FLORAL INDUCTION

Objective

  • Understanding the effect of newly set fruit (fruit thinning) on return crop
  • Increasing our knowledge on the biomolecular mechanisms of flower induction

Outcomes to date

  • Complete removal of fruit in January has been shown to increase the abundance of flowers in the following spring with determinate flowering becoming more predominant.
  • Avocado flowering genes have been identified that will help with future signaling studies.
  • Data relating to the potential role of different sugar in floral signaling is currently being analyzed.


PRUNING TO BALANCE TREES

Objective· Obtain scientific evidence of the benefits and disadvantages of pruning with the hypothesis that pruning can be a valid tool to balance trees.

Outcomes to date· Pruning an average of 30% of fruit in December did not reduce the final yield of trees and increased fruit size profile in a preliminary trial. · Early fruit drop was observed to be higher in unpruned trees compared to trees pruned in December and February suggesting fruit drop rates are not predetermined.


SMALL TREES

Objective

  • To determine the viability of super intensive plantings in NZ conditions.
  • To explore their current challenges and contribute to overcome these challenges.

Outcomes to date

  • Two orchards in BOP with trials established.
  • Investigating two pruning strategies and incorporating use of plant growth regulator Sunny.


PLANT GROWTH REGULATORS (UNICONAZOLE)

Objectives

  • To determine the effect of different Uniconazole application strategies on the productivity of avocado orchards in NZ.

Outcomes to date

  • Single application following pruning has been trialled with results currently being analysed.
  • Two trial blocks have had Sunny applied as part of the small tree project.


IRRIGATION

Objective

  • To determine water consumption of avocado orchards in NZ conditions.
  • To evaluate the effect of different management irrigation strategies on productivity
  • To develop irrigation management tools that can be used by growers.

Outcomes to date

  • Drought conditions have been shown to reduce fruit size.
  • Sap flow probes have been used to measure water use in both large and small trees for almost one year. Data will be used to help with irrigation management decisions.

 

 

POSTHARVEST

Objectives

  • To determine and establish post-harvest procedures which optimise product quality.

Outcomes to date

  • Controlled atmosphere recommendations have been updated.
  • Precooling practices are being investigated to ascertain opportunities for greater efficiency when packing fruit.

 

MBIE: B MINUS TO B PLUS

POLLINATION

Objective

  • Increase populations of key unmanaged pollinators
  • Manage bumblebee colonies in orchards and farms for pollination
  • Manipulate bee behavior to improve pollination

Outcomes to date

  • Commercial opportunities are currently being explored by Plant & Food Research for increasing populations of alternative pollinators.
  • Trials looking at manipulation of bee behavior are being carried out initially in kiwifruit orchards. Successful practices, once identified, will be transferred to the avocado industry where practical.

PGP: GO GLOBAL

CANOPY MANAGEMENT

Objective

  • To identify, characterize and evaluate different canopy management strategies under the working group scheme. Are any of these strategies compatible with high and regular production?

Outcomes to date

  • A working group has been established in the Bay of Plenty.
  • First pruning strategy has been documented with videos posted on industry website.


TREE DECLINE

Objective

  • To determine the main factors that hinder the health of avocado trees in NZ avocado orchards in different circumstances.
  • To develop and validate management strategies to increase the health of declining avocado trees in different circumstances.

Outcomes to date

  • Far North Working group has completed the diagnostic process on a number of orchards.
  • Tree Decline factors identified in the diagnostic process were reported at industry field days held in June 2015.
  • Irrigation coverage should be maximized.
  • Irrigation should be tailored to each tree where possible.
  • Leaf litter retention is important. Pruning’s can help retain leaf litter.
  • Important to understand phosphonate use and ensure practices are effective.
  • Remedial actions to improve tree health have been undertaken with further actions planned.
  • Monitoring of trees to assess effectiveness of actions will begin this summer.

NEW CULTIVARS

Objective

  • To determine the potential of the new cultivars imported by NZ Avocado in NZ conditions

Outcomes to date

  • Working group established in Whangarei.
  • Ongoing industry evaluation of clonal root stock performance reported to industry at industry field days held in June 2015.
 

PLANT & FOOD RESEARCH

LEAFROLLER MATING DISRUPTION

Objective

  • To determine potential of Leafroller pheromone mating disruption technology (MD) as an additional and sustainable method of controlling Leafroller in avocado orchards.

Outcomes to date

  • Proof of concept has proved promising for disrupting the mating cycle of Leafroller species important to the avocado industry.

ROT PREDICTION

Objective

  • To explore and validate the rot prediction tool and ascertain the potential role a fruit rot prediction tool may have for the avocado industry.

Outcomes to date

  • A sampling method has been established and tested in preliminary studies. Further validation of the sampling method is required along with cost assessment and applicability of the technology.

 

SIX SPOTTED MITE PHENOLOGY & EPIDEMIOLOGY

Objectives

  • Gain a better understanding of the lifecycle, phenology and population movement of Six Spotted Mite in order to improve control methods.

Outcomes to date

  • Relationship between use of broad spectrum insecticides to control other pests and SSM population increase is being studied through spray diary and pest monitoring data mining.
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