NSW avocado grower study tour to Western Australia, 2007 (AV06013)
This is a final research report from Hort Innovation’s historical archives. Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.
What was it all about?
Twenty New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland (QLD) avocado growers and affiliates visited the two main avocado producing areas of Western Australia (WA), Carabooda, north of Perth and Pemberton in the south. The tour extended from the 26th to 31st of March 2007. From the growers’ perspective, the aim of the tour was to investigate cultural techniques employed by the Western Australian avocado industry in view of improving competitiveness within the industry. For the DPI&F researcher present, the objective of the tour was to familiarize herself with the WA avocado industry, the cultural practices and to identify areas of grower concern which may have presented future research opportunities for the DPI&F.
The tour commenced with a visit to the Perth Central Market in Canning Vale. Approximately 85 per cent of the avocados traded at the Perth Market were sold within WA and the remaining 15 per cent was transported to the eastern and southern states. The market adhered to a Mandatory Code of Conduct and was developing a Standard Terms of Trade at the time of this report's publication.
Avocado growing conditions in WA were vastly different to those of the East Coast. The harvesting season extended from September to March which was counter season to that of the East Coast. In WA fruit set and early development occured during the cooler wet winter months. Most of the fruit development and all of the harvesting occured over the hot dry summer months. The hot dry conditions minimized the insect pest and disease pressure and resulted in high quality fruit being produced with very little crop loss and minimum chemical intervention required. Seven avocado farms were visited during the tour, all of which rarely experience any post-harvest fruit quality problems. Another possible contributor to the excellent post-harvest quality achieved in WA was the short cold storage period of the avocado fruit. Being counter season to the major avocado producing areas in Australia, demand often exceeds supply during the WA avocado harvesting season. Fruit moved rapidly through the market which mitigated fruit quality problems. Most of the avocado growing areas visited were on sandy soils requiring frequent irrigation. The well drained soil also contributed to the low incidence of phytophthora root rot in this region. In the Carabooda area most of the irrigation water was obtained from aquifers and due to the reduced rainfall over the previous few years, the water quality was deteriorating. Salt burn was evident on avocado leaves and was apparently common in the autumn months. In the Pemberton area irrigation water was obtained from the winter rainfall runoff and stored in large farm dams. The water quality was good but winter frost damage was of concern to the growers in the South. As with East Coast avocado growers, canopy management was one of the WA growers’ greatest concerns. Various canopy management techniques were being utilized in WA ranging from tree stumping, tree removal, mechanical hedging and selective limb removal. The success of these techniques varied and the AAL had commenced canopy management trials in the area. Some of the farms visited packed and marketed their own avocado fruit but many belonged to cooperative groups. Communication between growers, packshed managers, marketing managers and the product recipient was to be commended. In view of the expected future increase in avocado production throughout Australia, the eastern and southern states producers were well advised to follow the WA model of effective communication and cooperation.
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This project was funded by Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited) with the financial support of Quadrant Australia Pty Ltd.
Copyright © Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited 2007. The Final Research Report (in part or as whole) cannot be reproduced, published, communicated or adapted without the prior written consent of Hort Innovation (except as may be permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)).