In 2018, NZ Avocado developed and implemented a plan to support the improvement of quality on all avocados from New Zealand. Below is a summary of the projects within the plan and their status to date.

On orchard

Best practice for the mitigation of fruit rots on orchard

A comprehensive literature review, best practice guidelines and technical worksheets have been developed for the control of fruit rots on orchard. 

Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) – AvoVantage

NZ Avocado has been successful in obtaining funding under the SFF programme and the outcomes of this project aim to reduce the percentage of unsound fruit as well as further develop best practice guidelines based on practical, sustainable and effective disease management strategies for the management of fruit rots on orchard. The work is being led by Plant & Food Research and and began in July 2019 for a duration of three years.

Status (19th Dec 2019):

Participating Growers have been selected and baseline measurements and library trays for Year 1 have been collected and results are being analysed.

Further data is also being collated from participating Grower surveys and an interim report is due end of April 2020.

Fungicide trials

NZ Avocado regularly reviews its agrichemical portfolio for fungicides available for on-orchard use by the industry.

Status (19th Dec 2019):

Amistar:

On-orchard spray trials for registration of Amistar ® (active ingredient azoxystrobin) for use in avocados were completed in November 2019.

Results are currently being analysed and application for registration with ACVM will be dependent on efficacy results from the trial. If registration is to proceed, it is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

Bio-control agents (biofungicides):

Approval has been given to screen approximately 20 bio-control agents against pathogenic fungi that cause fruit rots in avocados.   This work commences in late January 2020 with a targeted completion date of April 2020.  Those bio-control agents showing efficacy against avocado fruit rots will be incorporated into the Avovantage spray trial programme due to begin in September 2020.

Fruit staining

For an update on fruit staining please click here

Post Harvest

Post harvest supply chain temperature

A “Startup” Callaghan grant was submitted in January 2019 and completed in April 2019. This funding was used to start to characterise the environmental conditions from harvest to in-market customer and attempt to link incidence of avocado chilling injury with particular practices through the supply chain. The grant assisted in collecting useful supply chain information that guided the development of the Callaghan Best Practice Cool Chain Project.

The Callaghan grant for Best Practice Avocado Cool Chain” project was approved in September 2019.  This is a two-year project working across packhouses and utilising expertise from NZAvocado, Start Afresh (David Tanner) and Plant and Food Research.  

Status (19th Dec 2019):

Work is underway across:

  1. Cool chain monitoring
  2. Containers going to Brisbane across a selection of packhouses
  3. Tags are being returned and data analysed to identify trends
  4. Temperature tracking from picking (bins on-orchard) to packing (bin tip)
  5. Chilling injury induction
    1. Fruit from three growers, one in Whangarei, two in the Bay of Plenty, have been submitted to Plant and Food Research for induction of chilling injury. Collection periods are across the months of November, December and January and the purpose of this piece of work is to catalogue degrees of chilling injury for the reference by the industry


Waterblaster review

In response to the quality changes experienced in the past two seasons, industry members have identified there is an opportunity to review and optimise waterblasters.

Waterblasters have become an integral part of the packing process in the last decade and the working plant has evolved on an individual site basis, with little co-ordination across the industry to facilitate best practice.

With the focus now on fruit and out turn quality the industry is taking a collective overview of all of the individual waterblaster setups to identify what an optimal waterblaster may look like to deliver clean, quality fruit to the markets.

Status (19th Dec 2019):

Ghost fruit (white painted fruit) and fruit with pollen deposits have been used at a single point in time to assess the efficacy of waterblaster performance this season.   All packhouse waterblasters have been reviewed to date.   In some cases, findings have resulted in immediate adjustments and improvements to the waterblaster performance.

Waterblaster optimisation per packhouse encompasses a visit to each packhouse to measure and record detailed waterblaster set up parameters.   This information will be used for comparative performance analysis to identify optimal waterblaster setup conditions.   Five packhouse waterblasters have completed this process to date with more scheduled for 2020.

Impact sensor for the packline (Robot avocado)

An impact sensor is available to provide real-time measurements of impact on the packline. It is designed to replicate an avocado on the line and may provide opportunities for improvement. Packhouses are using the impact sensor to identify any areas of the packline that may be contributing to fruit quality issues.

Best practice harvest

A review of previous work involving harvesting and fruit quality has been undertaken and harvesting best practice guidelines have been published in the September 2018 Avoscene and are available in the Grow section on this website.

Fumigation alternative – Phosphine trials at 3000ppm

Results from the first project identified phosphine at 1500ppm had no negative impact on quality and gave rot suppression as well.  However, mites were not under control.

Status (19th Dec 2019):

Further investigations are underway using at a higher rate of phosphine which may demonstrate better efficacy against mites as a post harvest treatment (post packing).

Non-destructive dry matter assessment via FELIX (NIR device) – Callaghan Summer Student

Validation work on a non-destructive NIR handheld (portable) metre for dry matter assessment has begun at Eurofins.   This is being carried out under a NZAvocado Callaghan Summer Student Grant and began in November.

Status Update (19th Dec 2019):

Measurements on-orchard and in the laboratory are being captured and compared with the standard industry maturity testing procedure (destructive test).

Final testing will be completed in mid-January with the report targeted for end of February.

This project has been enabled by the generosity of two growers and one packhouse who have supplied fruit.

Last updated 19th December 2019