Introduction of Avocado Fruit Farming :
Avocados are an ancient fruits and originated from central America and Mexico. These fruits are commonly called as “Butter Fruits” in India. Avocado is a tropical fruit and looks similar to pear fruit. These fruits are good source of nutrients compared to other fruits. Avocados are existed since 1900’s in India and first introduced in the country’s west coast by way of Sri Lanka. Commercial cultivation of avocados is limited in India and mainly south Indian tates produce avocados. Avocado fruits are mainly used as fresh fruit. They are also used in salads & sandwich fillings. Even though avocado farming is picking slowly in India, avocados cultivation has good future in India. Generally, July through Sept is the time period to find avocados in the market.
Health Benefits of an Avocado Fruit
- Avocados are healthy for heart.
- Avocados are good for vision.
- Avocados are good for digestion.
- Avocados are a good source of fiber.
- Avocados are natural detoxification fruits.
- Avocados may help in preventing osteoporosis.
- Avocados may help in fighting against cancer.
- Avocados are good for pregnant women.
- Avocados may help in lowering risk of depression.
- Avocados may help in protecting chronic diseases.
- Avocados may help in weight loss.
- Avocados may lower cholesterol & triglyceride levels.
Avocado, Butter Fruit (English), Makhanphal (Hindi), Vennai Pazham (Tamil/Malayalam), Alpukat (Marathi), Mager Nashpati (Urdu), Benne Hannu (Kannada), Venna Pandu (Telugu).
Avocado farming slowly picking up in India. Currently there are limited south Indian states that are in production of avocados. Commercial cultivation is happening in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, and Karnataka. Sikkim is the only north eastern state here avocados are grown.
West Indian race, Guatemalan race and Mexican race are major avocado races that are well adopted to tropical and sub tropical climatic conditions.
Fuerte, Pinkerton, Hass, Purple, Pollock, Green, Round, Peradeniya Purple Hybrid, Trapp and Long. Fuerte is widely grown cultivar in India.
Requirement for an Avocado Fruit Farming
Climate Required for an Avocado Fruit Farming:-
Avocado plants are grown in tropical and semi tropical humid areas. These plants cannot tolerate hot dry winds and frost. They thrive best in true tropical to warmer parts of the temperate area.
Soil Requirement for Avocado Fruit Farming:-
These fruits can be grown on wide variety of soils except on poorly drained soils as these plants are very sensitive to water logging. Avoid the saline soils as these plants cannot tolerate saline conditions. The optimum soil pH should be between 5.0 and 7.0 for better growth and yield.
Propagation and Planting Material in an Avocado Fruit Farming:-
Usually, avocado is propagated through seeds in India. Generally, the avocado viability of seeds can be increased storing the seeds in sand @ 5 °C (or) storing the seeds in dry peat. Mature seeds taken from the avocado fruits are used for direct sowing on nursery beds or in polyethylene bags. After growing seedlings for sex months in nursery can be transplanted to the main field.
Land Preparation in an Avocado Fruit Farming:-
Make the land weed free and fine tilth by giving couple of ploughings. Prepare the soil in such a way that water should not be stagnated. Adding enough farm yard manure or well rotten compost will increase the fertility of the soil so the yield.
Planting and Spacing in an Avocado Fruit Farming:-
Dig the pits size of 90 cm x 90 cm and fill the pits with farm yard manure and top soil in 1:1 ratio preferably in Feb to March period. Plant spacing in an avocado fruit farming depends on the cultivar and growth habit of the plants. Generally, a plant pacing of 8 m to 10 m is recommended in avocado plantation. For “Fuerte” variety, more spacing should be given due to its spreading nature. In Sikkim, a distance of 10 m x 10 m is preferred in June to July period on hills slopes.
Intercropping in an Avocado Fruit Farming:-
As intercropping provides extra income, farmers can choose to have any kind of vegetable or pulse crops in the inter space. These crops may fix the nitrogen and suppress the weeds and increase the soil fertility. Only precaution should be taken care to grow the crops little far from an avocado plant.
Irrigation in an Avocado Fruit Farming:-
In an avocado fruit farming, irrigation should be carried out as soon as the transplantation takes place in the main field. Subsequent irrigations can be carried out @ 3 to 4 weeks interval, especially in dry hot weather conditions. Mulching should be carried to avoid any moisture stress during the winter season. Mulch the plants with dry grass or dry leaves to retain the moisture. There is no need of irrigation in rainy season. In case of heavy rains or flooding, water should be drained out as avocado plants are very sensitive to water stagnation. Drip irrigation is preferred irrigation method as it improves the size of the fruit and oil percent and reduces the harvesting time.
Pruning in an Avocado Fruit Farming:-
Pruning is rarely done in an avocado plantation except in upright cultivars such as Pollock. If the plants have spreading nature (ex:Fuerte), branches should be thinned and cut. Avoid heavy pruning practice which promotes excessive vegetative growth and results in lesser yield.
Weed Control in an Avocado Fruit Farming:-
When plants are young, weeds should be controlled either mechanically or chemically. Hand weeding can be carried out in the avocado plantation. Chemical weedicides can be applied to prevent the weeds.
Pests and Diseases in an Avocado Fruit Farming:-
In an avocado plantation, the common pests found are mealy bugs, scales and mites. Control measures should be taken by spraying appropriate insecticides. Diseases found in an avocado plantation are fruit spot, leaf spot and root rot. To control the root rot disease, apply metalaxyl by mixing with soil just before planting the seedlings. Contact nearest horticulture department or agriculture department for appropriate pest and disease control measures in an avocado fruit farming. These diseases and pests may vary from each verity and soil type and moisture/climate conditions.
Harvesting of an Avocado Fruit:-
Plants grown from seeds will be ready for fruit harvesting in 5 to 6 years after planting. There are two varieties of fruits in an avocado farming, purple and green. To determine the maturity of the fruits, colour change should be observed. Usually, purple variety will change the colour from purple to maroon where as in green variety, colour changes from green to yellow. Avocado fruits will be ready for harvesting when the seed coat changes its colour from yellow white to dark brown colour. These fruits only soften after harvest and it takes 5 to 10 days for ripening.
Yield of an Avocado Fruit:-
The yield depends on the variety, age of the tree and farm management practices. An average yield of 200 to 500 fruits per tree can be obtained. From 10 to 12 years old trees, yield can be expected from 300 to 400 fruits per tree.