Recently, hass avocado farming has been on the rise due to the huge demand in countries such as China, Malaysia and India who import large tonnes of hass avocado fruits from Kenya owing to their high fat content. Hass Avocados has been referred to as ‘Green Gold’ due to the high returns that farmers are pocketing from their investment.
So the real question is, how do you plant and take care of the hass avocado trees in order to reap such high benefits?
In this article, we will provide a manual guide to farmers from the time they plant the seedlings up to the harvesting.
Step 1: Land Preparation
Land should be weed free and leveled. You should make 2 to 3 ploughings to bring the soil into a fine tilth. Remove any debris from the land.
Take a sample of the soil for testing to ensure that the soil contains all the nutrients and has the right Ph ideal for planting. In case the soil has any deficiencies, an agronomist is able to advise the farmer on what needs to be added to the soil before planting.
Step 2: Planting
One important aspect in the success of Hass avocado farming is acquiring healthy seedlings from a certified supplier such as OxfarmAg Ltd. When it comes to planting, the process is not at all complicated, all you need is healthy soil, manure, grafted seedlings and water for irrigation.
The planting stages are as follows:
- Dig a hole that is 2m length by 2m width by 2m depth.
- Remove the soil from the hole and mix it with well-rotted farmyard manure.
- Return the soil in the hole then plant your seedling. Ensure the seedling is at the soil level to avoid water logging during irrigation.
- Irrigate your seedling.
- If you are planting many hass avocado trees, ensure the spacing is 5m by 5m from one tree to another.
Step 3: Irrigation
When your Hass avocado tree is newly planted, it will need to be watered every two to three days. Before watering, always make sure the soil isn’t already very moist. As the tree gets older, you can reduce watering to once a week. The best time to irrigate is in the early morning hours and/or late evening to avoid water wastage through evaporation if done during the day.
The best irrigation system to use is the drip irrigation system. Drip Irrigation is the most efficient water and nutrient delivery system for growing crops. It delivers water and nutrients directly to the plant’s root zone, in the right amounts, at the right time, so each plant gets exactly what it needs, when it needs it, to grow optimally. It also saves 50% of water hence saving on cost.
Step 4: Fertilization
The best fertilizer for avocado trees is one with an NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) ratio of 2:1:1, such as 6-3-3. For best results, fertilizers should also be organic, slow-release, and come from a reputable brand. Hass avocado will also require zinc and boron.
You won’t need to fertilize your newly planted tree, but about one year after planting, apply roughly one ounce every month from spring through fall. The small doses are easier for the shallow roots to absorb. Farmers are also advised to use organic fertilizers on the hass avocado trees in order for the fruits to be viable for export.
Step 5: Pruning
Hass avocado trees need lots of foliage to ensure a high amount of fruit, they don’t need a lot of pruning. However, your tree may need some minimal pruning to maintain easy tree access, balance, and enough sun exposure. If your tree needs major re-shaping, some heavy pruning may be necessary. To prevent shock and the spread of blights, always prune during early spring or summer and wash your tools between pruning different trees. With proper care and minimal pruning, your avocado tree can thrive and keep producing fruit for years to come.
Step 6: Pests and diseases prevention
Every single plant is prone to getting affected by pests and diseases. When it comes to hass avocado farming, there are a few basic control measures a farmer can incorporate in order to prevent pests and diseases from attacking the plants;
- Planting the grafted species, (hass variety). Grafting greatly improves plant resistances to diseases.
- Weed control. Weeds are harmful in many ways. They harbour insects, pests and diseases:- Weeds either give shelter to various insects, pests and diseases or serve as alternate hosts.
- It helps to remove moisture reducing the chance of fungal infections and other air-borne diseases. The moisture is removed as the sun penetration will have increased when the fruit tree is pruned.
In instances where a farmer notes that the fruit trees are affected, it is advisable to talk to an agronomist who can recommend an insecticide or a fungicide that can help control the problem without harming the fruits.
Step 7: Harvesting
Hass avocado takes approximately 3 years from the time of planting to the first harvest time. This time can range due to different climatic conditions.
Hass avocado fruits are harvested gently by hand. To separate the fruit from the tree, workers carefully cut the stem of the avocado, using a pole pruner to pick those above arm’s reach. Attached to the pole is a catching basket or bag that captures the harvested fruits, preventing them from falling to the ground and bruising.
After harvest, hass avocados are sorted out, washed and packaged ready for export or processing.
Why should farmers embrace hass avocado farming
- Demand: Hass avocado is the most sought out variety among all avocados due to its unique taste and high fat content.
- Shelf life: The fruit has a high shelf life of 2-3 weeks from the time of harvesting. This is another reason why it is most preferred for export because it makes handling and shipment of the fruits easy for exporters without incurring losses.
- Profitability: Hass avocado is the best paying fruit among the fruits oversubscribed overseas thus presenting a property high profit venture for Kenyan farmers.
- Less labor: Hass avocado trees require little maintenance but produce more yields per tree and hence a good earner crop.
- Market: The market is liberalized and the prices competitive. Buyers compete for avocado fruits on the farm and make payments immediately when they get the produce
Hass avocados are a high-value fruit that is in high demand both domestically and abroad and offer numerous health and environmental advantages. Avocado growing can help you diversify your sources of income, enhance the quality of your land, save water, and lessen pests and diseases.