Innovative production systems

Start date: September 2020 End date: April 2030

Radically rethinking orchard setup, with tree physiology being the guiding principle, presents the opportunity to achieve high yields of quality fruit while simplifying orchard management, improving efficiency and opening up the potential of new technologies to further enhance orchard performance and efficiency.

This approach has been successful in the apple industry with trial data showing orchards are on track to double productivity from conventional growing systems. Researchers involved in the apple work are confident, similar principles can be applied to avocados.

The basic premise will be to repurpose Hass trees in the NZ Avocado research block (Te Puke), establish new plantings of Hass and Gem and train two main structural limbs out from the trunk parallel to the ground. From this horizontal structure, multiple vertical limbs will be trained upwards with minimal side branching to prevent shading.

IOPS trial tree A5(Hass on Dusa) pruned to two main structual limbs on 18 August 2023
IOPS trial tree A5 (Hass on Dusa) just prior to being pruned on 18 August 2023.
IOPS trial tree A12 (Gem on Dusa) after being pruned to two main structural limbs on 18 August 2023.
IOPS trial tree A12 (Gem on Dusa) just prior to being pruned on 18 August 2023.

Summary information

Fertilizer plan

Elemental inputs

Hass/Dusa

Gem/Bounty

Hass/Zutano

Fertilizer cost

Fertilizer product prices

Leaf test

Soil analysis

Spring 2023

Plan

  • Maintain condition of leaves through foliar application of nutrients and phosphonate to protect roots from Phytophthora.
  • Maintain fertiliser plan
  • Monitor soil moisture and irrigation as required.
  • Check weather station and clean rain gauge.

Fertiliser

22 September 2023 – Applied fertiliesr that was scheduled for Jun but was missed

Hass on Dusa and Gem on Bounty

  • Dolomite 500g/tree (208kg/ha)

Hass on Zutano stumps

  • Kieserite 50g/tree (18kg/ha)

General management

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Irrigation and soil moisture

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Winter 2023

Plan

  • Maintain leaf colour by maintaining fertiliser programme.
  • Remove weeds as required.

Fertiliser

18 August 2023

  • Hass on Dusa

    • 20g/tree Organibor
    • 100g/tree Avogain no-P
    • Foliar low-biureat urea 500g/100L (1.25kg/ha)
    • Foliar Magnesium sulphate 500g/100L (1.25kg/ha)

  • Gem on Bounty

    • 20g/tree Organibor
    • 100g/tree Avogain no-P
    • Foliar low-biureat urea 500g/100L (1.25kg/ha)
    • Foliar Magnesium sulphate 500g/100L (1.25kg/ha)

  • Hass on Zutano stumps

    • 100g/tree Organibor on Hass on stumps
    • 200g/tree Avogain no-P
    • Foliar low-biureat urea 500g/100L (1.25kg/ha)
    • Foliar Magnesium sulphate 500g/100L (1.25kg/ha)

General management

30 August 2023

  • Pruned Row D back to two main leaders.
  • Flushed irrigation lines and checked sprinkler heads.

23 August 2023

  • Pruned Rows B and C back to two main leaders.

18 August 2023

  • Pruned Row A back to two main leaders.

Irrigation and soil moisture

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Autumn 2023

Plan

  • Maintain leaf colour going into winter by maintaining fertiliser programme.
  • Carry out soil and leaf nutrient testing
  • 3 x foliar apply phosphonate to young trees and inject stumps.
  • Monitor soil moisture and irrigate as required.
  • Remove weeds as required.

Fertiliser

28 April – 50 – 80g Avogain No-P on all young trees. 300g  Avogain No-P on stumps.

28 April – Phosphonate injection at 20% final concentration. 3 x 20ml per stump.

28 April – 312ml Foschek (0.5%) + 125ml nitrosol original (1 in 200) in 25l water applied to all trees foliar.

22 March – 312ml Foschek (0.5%) + 125ml nitrosol original (1 in 200) in 25l water applied to all trees foliar.

7 March – 312ml Foschek (0.5%) + 125ml nitrosol original (1 in 200) in 25l water applied to all trees foliar.

General management

1 March – Collected soil and leaf tests from Hass on Dusa, Gem on Bounty and Hass on Zutano stumps. Sent to Hill Laboratories for testing.

Irrigation and soil moisture

Summer 2022-23

Plan

  • Maintain fertiliser plan.
  • Monitor soil moisture and irrigate as required.
  • Remove weeds as required.

Fertiliser

16 January – 15g kocide opti and 75ml (1:200) Nitrosol Original in 15L foliar applied to all trees.

General management

10 January – Planted 6 pollinisers into 1000L IPC bins. 3 x Zutano on Bounty and 3 x Ettinger on Bounty. Will move into rows during spring flowering.

Irrigation and soil moisture

Spring 2022

Plan

  • Maintain condition of leaves through foliar application of nutrients and phosphonate to protect roots from Phytophthora.
  • Minor pruning and training of limbs to form to 2-dimensional structure.
  • Carry out check of irrigation system and maintenance of tensiometers for soil moisture monitoring.
  • Check weather station and clean rain gauge.
15th September 2022
Hass on Dusa, 15th September
Gem on Dusa, 15th September

Fertiliser

26 October – 100g/tree yaramilla complex young Hass and Gem trees. 200g/tree yaramilla complex on stumps.

General management

14 October – 5 hours X 2 people for Spring assessments, pruning rows a, b and d. Prunigns weighed.

26 October – Pruned row c and weighed prunings.

Irrigation and soil moisture

26 October – Installed tensiometers on Hass on Zutano stumps.

Winter 2022

Plan

  • Maintain fertiliser plan
  • Protect trees from frost as best possible
Hass on Dusa with central foliage unpruned and side limbs being trained onto bamboo poles. Taken 22nd December 2021
Hass on Dusa with central foliage pruned out and side limbs being trained onto bamboo poles. Taken 22nd December 2021

Fertiliser

15th August – All trees (112g low biuret urea + 75g Magnesium sulphate + 10.5h Kocide Opti in 15L water)

18th June – All trees (113g low biuret urea + 75g Magnesium sulphate + 13g Kocide Opti in 15L water)

17th June – Stumps (2 – 2.5kg G Lime and 2-2.5kg gypsum + 50g Yaramilla complex), Gem and other Hass trees (200-250g G Lime and 200-250g gypsum + 30g Yaramilla complex)

General management

18th August – Sprayed edge of weedmat all rows with 1% glyphosate

21st June – Sprayed edge of weedmat of row B with Weedenz herbicide

Autumn 2022

Plan

  • Assess growth of trees
  • Carry out soil and leaf testing and establish a fertiliser plan for the year.
  • Carry out 3 x foliar phosphonate applications in late autumn to help potect trees from Phytophthora root rot
  • Continue to monitor soil moisture and irrigate if required (-30kPa for both 15cm and 30cm tensiometers)
Hass on Dusa with central foliage unpruned and side limbs being trained onto bamboo poles. Taken 22nd December 2021
Hass on Dusa with central foliage pruned out and side limbs being trained onto bamboo poles. Taken 22nd December 2021

Fertiliser

Trees are looking mostly healthy Aim is to harden leaves before winter without stimulating new growth.

13th May – Nitrosol Original 1:200 (75ml in 15L water) and Foscheck 0.24% final concentration (90ml of 40% in 15L water)+ 10.5g Kocide Opti in 15L

29th March – Nitrosol Original 1:200 (50ml in 10L water) and Foscheck 0.24% final concentration (60ml of 40% in 10L water)

8th March – Seperate soil and leaf tests collected from Hass, Gem and Staghorned Hass stumps prior to application of 20 – 40g CAN per tree and foliar Nitrosol Original 1:200 (50ml in 10L water) and Foscheck 0.24% final concentration (60ml of 40% in 10L water)

General management

13th May – Edges of weedmat sprayed with Weedenz herbicide

8th March – Shelter belt trimmed

Irrigation and soil moisture

You can follow soil moisture monitoring of the young Hass on Dusa trees at the link here

11th March 2022

  • Tensiometer readings

    • Hass 15cm=-kPa, 30cm=-kPa
    • Gem 15cm= -kPa, 30cm=-kPa

  • Hass on Dusa – 5.0mm on young trees (2h 20m of 95L/hr sprinklers 3.75m radius = 44.17m²)

    • Soil moisture looks good with increase to just over field capacity for 15cm sensor and only small increase in 50cm soil moisture indicating minimal leeching)

  • Hass on Zutano stumps – 5.6mm on stumps (2h 20m of 207L/hr sprinklers 5.25m radius (86.59m²))
  • Gem on Bounty – 2.8mm (2h 20m of 54L/hr sprinklers 3.75m radius = 44.17m²)

Summer 2021-22

Plan

  • Remove frost cloth
  • Begin training/pruning of limbs to form to 2-dimensional structure.
  • Establish irrigation to cycle between field capacity and stress point for trees (-30kPa for both 15cm and 30cm tensiometers)
Hass on Dusa with central foliage unpruned and side limbs being trained onto bamboo poles. Taken 22nd December 2021
Hass on Dusa with central foliage pruned out and side limbs being trained onto bamboo poles. Taken 22nd December 2021

Fertiliser

Leaves have greened up significantly from yellow condition in early spring. Aim is to support new vegetative growth.

8th March – Seperate soil and leaf tests collected from Hass, Gem and Staghorned Hass stumps prior to application of 20 – 40g CAN per tree and foliar Nitrosol Original 1:200 (50ml in 10L water) and Foscheck 0.24% final concentration (60ml of 40% in 10L water)

12th January – 40g per tree of Yaramila Complex

General management

8th March – Shelter belt trimmed

24th February 2022 – Edges of weed mat sprayed with glyphosate herbicide.

4th February 2022 – Line trimmer used to remove grass and weeds from edge of weedmats prior to irrigation and mowing.

8th February 2022 – Block mowed.

Irrigation and soil moisture

You can follow soil moisture monitoring of the young Hass on Dusa trees at the link here

10th December 2021

  • Tensiometer readings

    • Hass 15cm=-40kPa, 30cm=-32kPa
    • Gem 15cm= -28kPa, 30cm=-18kPa

  • Hass on Dusa – 30mm on young trees (19min of 95L/hr sprinklers restricted to 1m²)

    • Notice that the soil moisture increases at the 30cm and 50cm depth but not the 15cm depth. This indicates that the water can’t soak through the weedmat as quickly as it is being applied.

  • Hass on Zutano stumps – 4.3mm on stumps (2h of 95L/hr sprinklers not restricted 3.75m radius (44.17m²))
  • Gem on Bounty – 17mm (19mm of 54L/hr sprinklers restricted to 1m²)

24th December 2021

  • Hass on Dusa – 30mm on young trees (19min of 95L/hr sprinklers restricted to 1m²)

    • Notice that the soil moisture increases at the 30cm and 50cm depth but not the 15cm depth. This indicates that the water can’t soak through the weedmat as quickly as it is being applied.

  • Hass on Zutano stumps – 4.3mm on stumps (2h of 95L/hr sprinklers not restricted 3.75m radius (44.17m²))
  • Gem on Bounty – 17mm (19min of 54L/hr sprinklers restricted to 1m²)

29th December 2021 – (Restrictors removed from all sprinkler heads)

  • Tensiometer readings

    • Hass 15cm=-10kPa, 30cm=-28kPa
    • Gem 15cm= -24kPa, 30cm=-10kPa

  • Hass on Dusa – 4mm on young trees (2h of 95L/hr sprinklers 3.75m radius = 44.17m²)

    • Soil moisture increases at 15cm depth but not enough. 30cm depth increases more likely due to being located in gap of weedmat. 50cm depth only shows small increase indicating minimal leeching likely)

  • Hass on Zutano stumps – 4.3mm on stumps (2h of 95L/hr sprinklers not restricted 3.75m radius (44.17m²))
  • Gem on Bounty – 1.2mm (2h of 54L/hr sprinklers 3.75m radius = 44.17m²)

4th January 2022

  • Tensiometer readings

    • Hass 15cm=-18kPa, 30cm=-28kPa
    • Gem 15cm= -12kPa, 30cm=-28kPa

  • Hass on Dusa – 13mm on young trees (6h of 95L/hr sprinklers 3.75m radius = 44.17m²)

    • Soil moisture increased too much. 50cm depth sensor shows sharp spike in soil moisture indicating that water was going deeper than 50mcm and likely taking nutrients with it. Sprinkler water catching on lower leaves and stem leading to more water under drip line than outside dripline)

  • Hass on Zutano stumps – 12mm on stumps (5h of 207L/hr sprinklers not restricted 5.25m radius (86.59m²))
  • Gem on Bounty – 7.3mm (6h of 54L/hr sprinklers 3.75m radius = 44.17m²)

18th January 2022

  • Tensiometer readings

    • Hass 15cm=-23kPa, 30cm=-30kPa
    • Gem 15cm= -23kPa, 30cm=-36kPa

  • Hass on Dusa – 8.6mm on young trees (4h of 95L/hr sprinklers 3.75m radius = 44.17m²)

    • Soil moisture still increased too much. 50cm depth sensor shows sharp spike in soil moisture indicating that water was going deeper than 50mcm and likely taking nutrients with it.)

  • Hass on Zutano stumps – 9.6mm on stumps (4h of 207L/hr sprinklers 5.25m radius (86.59m²))
  • Gem on Bounty – 4.9mm (4h of 54L/hr sprinklers 3.75m radius = 44.17m²)

4th February 2022

  • Tensiometer readings

    • Hass 15cm=-30kPa, 30cm=-36kPa
    • Gem 15cm= -18kPa, 30cm=-50kPa

  • Hass on Dusa – 5.0mm on young trees (2h 20m of 95L/hr sprinklers 3.75m radius = 44.17m²)

    • Soil moisture looks good with increase to just over field capacity for 15cm sensor and only small increase in 50cm soil moisture indicating minimal leeching)

  • Hass on Zutano stumps – 5.6mm on stumps (2h 20m of 207L/hr sprinklers 5.25m radius (86.59m²))
  • Gem on Bounty – 2.8mm (2h 20m of 54L/hr sprinklers 3.75m radius = 44.17m²)

11th March 2022

  • Tensiometer readings

    • Hass 15cm=-kPa, 30cm=-kPa
    • Gem 15cm= -kPa, 30cm=-kPa

  • Hass on Dusa – 5.0mm on young trees (2h 20m of 95L/hr sprinklers 3.75m radius = 44.17m²)

    • Soil moisture looks good with increase to just over field capacity for 15cm sensor and only small increase in 50cm soil moisture indicating minimal leeching)

  • Hass on Zutano stumps – 5.6mm on stumps (2h 20m of 207L/hr sprinklers 5.25m radius (86.59m²))
  • Gem on Bounty – 2.8mm (2h 20m of 54L/hr sprinklers 3.75m radius = 44.17m²)

Spring 2021

Plan

  • Maintain and hopefully improve condition of leaves through foliar application of nutrients and phosphonate to protect roots from Phytophthora.
  • Begin training/pruning of limbs to form to 2-dimensional structure.
  • Carry out check of irrigation system and maintenance of tensiometers for soil moisture monitoring.
  • Check weather station and clean rain gauge.

Fertiliser

Approximately 70% of the trial trees have yellow leaves believed to be photo oxidation caused by sunlight at cold temperatures. Soil nutrient levels are adequate so fortnightly foliar application of 1/200 Nitrosol Original and 0.5% Foschek is being applied to maintain nutrients in leaves until new flush develops and to protect roots from phytophthora and maximise root function for nutrient uptake.

13th September – Foliar application of 1/200 Nitrosol Original and 0.4% Foschek (phosphonate)

24th September – Foliar application of 1/200 Nitrosol Original and 0.4% Foschek (phosphonate)

15th October – Foliar application of 1/200 Nitrosol Original, 30g C.A.N per tree applied to ground within shelter

12th November – Foliar applicaiton of 1/200 Nitrosol Original and Kocide Opti 70g/100L

26th November – Foliar applicaiton of 1/200 Nitrosol Original and 30g C.A.N per tree applied to ground within shelter

General management

15th October 2021 – Edges of weedmat sprayed with glyphosate for weed control.

12th November 2021 – All flowers and fruitlets removed from Hass trees before applying Nitrosol and copper spray as detailed in fertiliser section. No flower removed from Gem trees based on advice from Seeka. Frost cloth removed. Tensiometers serviced by with change of liquid, reinstallation and removal of any bubbles. Irrigation system checked for proper function and all sprinkler heads working.

Hass tree (C7) in Innovative Production System trial before flowers removed – 12th November 2021
Hass tree (C7) in Innovative Production System trial after flowers removed – 12th November 2021

Irrigation and soil moisture

12th November 2021 – Tensiometer sets in Hass and Gem serviced by removal, replacement of liquid, reinstallation and removal of any bubbles. Irrigation system checked for proper function.

26th November 2021 – 10mm of water applied to new Hass and Gem trees (7min of 95L/hr sprinklers (with restrictors limiting coverage to 1m²). 2.2mm applied to stump trees (1hour of 95L/hr sprinklers (restrictors removed – 7.5m diameter = 44m²)

Winter 2021

Fertiliser

4th June – Foliar application of 1/200 Nitrosol Original and 0.4% Foschek (phosphonate).

1st July – Soil nutrient samples taken of stumped row, Hass trees and Gem trees separately.

14th July – Foliar application of 75g low biuret urea and 50g Magnesium sulphate in 10L water.

30th July – Ground application of 100g/tree Yaramilla complex.

10th August – Foliar application of 1/200 Nitrosol Original and 0.4% Foschek (phosphonate).

Weed control

We weren’t able to visit the block as often as we planned so the decision was made to trial extenday weedmatting to help surpress weeds without the need to regularly spray with herbicide. Some hand weeding was carried out at each site visit.

10th March – Installed weedmat on stump row

27th April – Installed weedmat on rows 2 and 3

Summer 2020 (Establishment and planting)

Establishment

Planting plan

Rows will be spaced 4m apart to allow 3m for machinery access and 1m of canopy extending out from middle of planted row. Within the row trees will be planted at 6m with vertical cordons. This leaves an option to thin to 12m within the row. It is thought that having more cordons with more widely spaced trees will help reduce vigour of trees and reduce the amount of management required. The 6m spaced trees will fill the space more quickly and it may be possible to contain vigour at this spacing.

Tree spacing diagram with vertical cordons.

Trellis structure with tree location marked.

Trellis structure. Photo taken 30th November 2020

Photo taken 14th January 2021 after trees planted 18th December 2020.