By Stellah Jepkosgei

Today in Kenya, more and more farmers are compelled to start growing improved avocado trees which will triple the country’s production rates for export. When planning to establish a new orchard you need to consider the following factors; soil type, climate and availability of irrigation water and also management skills required. It is advisable that you plant your avocado trees during the long rains season for proper establishment.

Ecological requirements

  • Altitude – 1000-2000M above the sea level
  • Temperatures – optimum temperatures of 20-24ºC is required
  • Rainfall – 1000-1200mm is adequate ad it should be well distributed.
  • Soils – grow your avocadoes in well drained soils to avoid root rot. The best soils are sandy or alluvial loams with Ph ranging from 5-7. Soil testing and analysis should be done at least 6months before planting.

Planting material

Avocadoes are planted from seedlings. Its good to plant using grafted seedlings as it improves the variety by increasing its resistance to diseases, improving yield and increasing its adaptability to different soils. Any planting material should be free from pests and diseases.

The following procedure should be followed;

  • Site selection and preparation- since avocado trees are highly affected by water logging and root rot disease, your site should be well drained with no clay layers at least within a depth of 2ft.
  • Land preparation – the land should be cleared and ploughed during the dry season.
  • Preparation of planting holes and spacing – planting holes should be around 60cm by 70cm. The spacing is 6 by 7M to 8 by 10M depending on soil fertility and climatic conditions.
  • Planting – two packets of farm yard manure mixed properly with top soil, 250g DSP and a certified insecticide to fil the planting holes. Planting should be done after the onset of rains.
  • Pruning – root pruning at transplanting and during the early stages of growth.
  • Weed control – done to reduce competition for nutrients and water. Mechanical cultivation, cover cropping and mulching are the best weed control measures.
  • Pest and disease control – prevention is key. It is done through weed control and proper selection of planting materials.
  • Harvesting – this is done manually by picking mature fruits from the trees. One must be careful not to bruise or scratch the fruits as this will lower their quality.

Major pests include;

  • False codling moth
  • Systates weevils
  • Thrips
  • Mosquito bugs
  • Fruit flies

Major diseases include;

  • Root rot
  • Anthracnose
  • Cercospora fruit spot
  • Scab

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