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 from the Sustainable Farming Fund for a two-year project looking at on-orchard rot mitigation.  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 began in July 2019.

Status (21 May 2020):

Participating growers have been selected and baseline measurements and library trays for Year 1 have been collected and results are being analysed. An interim report from year 1 is now available and a full report of year 1 findings will be published September 2019.

Download the interim report below.

Fungicide trials

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

Status (26th May 2020):

Amistar:

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

A copy of the final report has been received with a target submission date, by Syngenta, to ACVM of end June 2020. Registration is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

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 has commenced with a targeted completion date of May 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 investigation programme

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 (14th Feb 2020):

Work has been conducted on:

  1. Cool chain monitoring
    1. Twenty containers have been monitored through the cool chain to Australia.
    2. Collecting data on the coolstore infrastructure of 12 packhouses. Finalising the data collection and conducting surveys has been delayed due to the COVID-19 lockdown.    
  2. Chilling injury induction across three time points – November, December and January on fruit from three orchards, one in Whangarei, two in the Bay of Plenty. The purpose of this piece of work is to catalogue degrees of chilling injury for the reference by the industry as follows:

Indicative findings are:

  1. Cool performing well
  2. Containers continue cooling avocados
  3. Chilling injury is more prevalent below 3°C

Waterblaster review

In response to the quality changes experienced in the past two seasons, industry stakeholders 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 (26th May 2020):

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.

Further work is being framed up looking at how to improve current waterblasters and what a “waterblasters designed for New Zealand Avocados” could look like.

Impact sensor for the pack line (Robot avocado) 

An impact sensor is available to provide real-time measurements of impact across the packline. It is designed to replicate an avocado moving through the packline and may provide opportunities for improvement.

Status (26th May 2020):

This project will continue in the new season.

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.

Phytosanitary trials for treatment of mites (fumigation alternative – phosphine)

Mites are routinely found in-market, on fruit, and are often actionable.  This project aims to assess options to lessen the fumigation of fruit with methylbromide (MBr).

Trials using phosphine at 1500ppm were not successful in controlling the mites however did demonstrate that phosphine provided rot suppression and did not detrimentally impact quality.  

Status (26th May 2020):

Fumigation work at the higher level of 3000 ppm was completed in December 2019. Fruit quality and mite mortality assessments have been completed.  An end of project summary for SFFF reporting and industry communication has been written.  Next steps involve consultation with exporters on the feasibility of commercial trials

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, carried out under a NZAvocado Callaghan R&D Experience Grant at Eurofins, is now complete. 

Status Update (26th May 2020):

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

 Key findings from the project are the FELIX:

  • is not suitable for a non-destructive single fruit measurement.
  • is not a suitable as a replacement for the industry standard destructive method.
  • is suitable for batch dry matter monitoring in the field or lab.
  • requires more work on the design to make it an effective field tool due to its weight and dimensions making it not truly portable.

This project has been enabled by the generosity of two growers and one packhouse who have supplied fruit and Eurofins who accommodated and mentored Rebekah Pointon.

A summary document can be obtained on request from Glenys.

Last updated on the 26th May 2020