The avocado is indigenous to the Americas but grows well in Kenya. It is highly nutritious with a high protein and oil content and is now becoming increasingly important as an export product.
The fruit is almost sodium-free, rich in potassium dietary fiber, and vitamin B6, C, D, and E. Avocado is eaten as fresh fruit, in salads, soups, ice cream, as well used to make avocado oil, perfume, and avocado paste.
Its tree can be erect, normally to 9metres tall though sometimes to 18metres or more, with a trunk 30-60cm in diameter, or it may be short and level with branches beginning close to the ground.
Its leaves are intermittent, dark-green, and shining on the upper surface, whitish on the underside, variable in shape, and 7-40 cm long.
Small, pale-green, or yellow-green flowers are borne extensively in racemes near the branch tips. They require petals but have two whorls of three perianth lobes, more or less pubescent, and nine stamens with two basal orange nectar glands.
This fruit, pear-shaped, usually more or less necked, oval, or nearly round, maybe 7-20 cm long and up to about 15cm wide.
The skin might be yellow-green, deep-green or very dark-green, reddish-purple, or very dark a purple as to seem almost black, and is seldom speckled with tiny yellow dots, it might be smooth or pebbled, glossy or dull, thin or leathery and up to 6mm thick, pliable or granular and brittle.
In some fruits, instantly beneath the skin, there is a thin layer of soft, bright-green flesh, but generally, the flesh is uniquely pale to rich-yellow, buttery and bland or nutlike in flavor.
The single seed is oblate, round, conical or ovoid, 5-6.5 cm long, strong and heavy, ivory in color although enclosed in two brown, thin, papery seed coats oftentimes adhering to the flesh cavity, while the seed slips out easily.
Some fruits might be seedless due to lack of pollination or other factors.
In Eastern Kenya, avocadoes do well in the Kangundo, Mua Hills, Kathiani -Iveti hills, parts of Mbooni, all in Machakos County, and the high potential areas of the larger Meru, lower Nyanza, all western counties have the best climatic conditions for the Hass-Avocado type cultivation and Embu counties.
Varieties of Avocado
- The Nabal – its fruits are green with a good flavor.
- The Puebla bears deep purple to maroon round fruits and is usually used as a rootstock.
- The Fuerte – bears thin-skinned green-pebbled fruit of really good flavor. has many lines with different shapes. The pear-shaped fruit is preferred for export.
- The Haas- it bears medium-sized, rounded, rough-skinned, black fruits.
- Others are Reed, Simmonds, Booth 7&8, Pinkerton, Bacon, Lula, and Taylor
Benefits of Avacado
- Have a High in protein and mineral content as compared to animal proteins.
- They are an important source of good cholesterol.
- Used in the manufacture of facial and hair oil.
- They raise farmers economically besides earning foreign currency for the exporting country.
- The Antioxidants, amino acids, and essential oils in avocado repair damaged hair keep skin moisturized, and minimize wrinkles
Avocado Planting Procedure
- Land preparation. It is made easier and effective by the use of CLAMPDOWN 480SL 200ml/20l, a non-selective herbicide that kills all kinds of weeds.
- Prepare by the planting holes about 60cm x 60 x 60cm. General spacing for pure stands of avocadoes is 9m x9m.
- Fill your holes with topsoil mixed with manure and DAP. In order to improve on the nutrients uptake by the young plants also as stimulating growth, it is advisable to incorporate manure and DAP with HUMIPOWER at the rate of one-ton manure and 50kg fertilizer in 1kg Humipower each.
- Water your holes unless the soil is wet enough.
- Plant the grafts in holes, to the same depth as they were in the nursery. The bud union should be around 300mm above the ground.
- Water the seedlings after planting if it is not in the rainy season.
- Shade the young plants, and if planted in a windy area, a windbreak is as well necessary to protect the plants from leaning to one side and to assist prevent leaf shedding and bruising.
This is limited by the habit of the cultivar and the kind of soil. In light soil, 25 x 25 ft. it may be sufficient while in the deep, rich soil, the tree obtains its maximum growth, and spacing of 30-35 ft. may be necessary.
If trees are planted although close that they eventually touch each other, the branches die back.
All suckers and dead branches are removed from the main trunk branches.
The canopy is pruned to maintain the tree to a height of 5-8 m and for ease of picking.
Pruning should still be minimized because the tree is quite susceptible to sunburn.
The area around trees should be maintained clean by weeding and removal of all fallen fruits.
Weeds compete for growth constituents like nutrients and water and harbor pests and diseases.
CLAMPDOWN 480SL 200ml/20l is a non-selective herbicide that controls all types of weeds in the garden.
Pests & Disease Management
Various species of fruit fly invasion avocados. Anyway, eggs under the skin of the fruit which is just beginning to ripen, although others attack the young and old fruit. When the fruit reaches the size of a golf ball a sting lesion appears as a slight puncture mark surrounded by a white exudate. As the fruit grows the lesion becomes dry and turns into a distinct star-shaped crack on the skin surface.
Spray with PENTAGON 50EC 10ml/20l or LEXUS 247SC 8ml/20l or PRESENTO 200SP 5g/20l
False coddling moth
After developing from the egg, young caterpillar tunnels into the fruit, and a discoloration appears at the point of entrance. While inside they feed on the pulp, making premature ripening and fruit drop.
Spray the KINGCODE ELITE 50EC 10ml/20l or LEGACY 50EC 15ml/20l or SINOPHATE 750SP 20g/20l
These are small, slender insects with two pairs of fringed wings that feed by sucking the plant sap.
They make damage to the leaves and fruit and the simulated parts become whitish or silvery and are normally covered by dark-colored droppings.
The Attacked fruits develop a leathery brown skin and feeding is most particular on young fruits.
Spray the ALONZE 50EC 5ml/20l or PROFILE 440EC 30ml/20l or DEFENDER 25EC 40ml/20l
Maturity, Harvesting & Postharvest Handling
They are ready for harvesting at 5-10 months after flowering. This depends on the type and the ecological conditions of the region.
It might not be easy to tell when they are ready for harvesting except they are of the varieties that change color at maturity. For instance; dark-colored varieties are normally mature when they start to turn from green to dark color, while green-colored varieties become smoother, might develop corky spots, and a yellow tint to skin and stem.
The Clippers are used for low hanging fruits and for those higher up, a long-handled picking pole with a sharp “V” on the metal rim is utilized to cut the stem and a strong cloth bag to catch the fruit.
The Avocados doesn’t ripen while they are still attached to the tree.
If allowed to remain too long on the tree, the fruits may be blown down by the wind and they are damaged or broken by the fall.
Immature fruits don’t ripen but become rubbery, shriveled, and discolored.
When picked while fully grown and firm, avocados ripen in 4-5 weeks at room temperature.
A ripe avocado fruit yields to light pressure when gently squeezed and may be stored in the refrigerator for two to three days.
They are easily bruised or scratched and must be handled with care and are packed and padded in single or double-layer boxes or cartons for carrying or shipment.
Avocados ship well and is exported under refrigeration in surface vessels. The fruits are subject to chilling injury (dark-brown or gray discoloration of the mesocarp) in refrigerated storage and the degree of sensitivity varies with the variety and stage at harvesting and length of time in storage. Most commercial varieties may be held safely at temperatures between 4-13ºC for at least two weeks. The best ripening temperature after its removal from storage is 15ºC.
How much can an avocado farm make?
The Hass type tree may give an average of Ksh 3.500 per cycle. The farmer who has planted one hundred Hass avocado trees per acre, for instance, may get Ksh 700, 000 per year sold at a cost of Ksh 5 per fruit as the trees produce twice yearly. It is great to know that market prices as well go up to Ksh.35 per fruit which automatically changes the profit margin.