The market for avocados has been growing rapidly, and many South African growers are jumping into this market. Avocados can be produced 12 months a year and because there are limited avocados available in South Africa from October February there is a huge shortage and therefore people are prepared to pay crazy prices.
Greater levels of dispensable income, together with generic promotion and an awareness of the importance of healthy eating, have increased the demand for quality avocados. There has also been growth in the upper income group that is willing to pay high prices for value added products. Consequently, there is strong growth in the sales of avocados that are sold ripe and ready to eat.
MAJOR PRODUCTION AREAS
Avocado production in South Africa is concentrated mainly in the subtropical areas of Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and parts of KZN. Production in these provinces are as follows:
Limpopo Province – 59% of the national production.
Mpumalanga Province – 3% of the national production.
KZN Province – 8% of the national production.
Pear shaped, small to medium or a little larger; skin slightly rough to touch, with many small yellow dots. It is an early mid-season bearer, has an excellent flavour and is susceptible to fungal diseases.
Pear shaped to ovoid; has a tendency to be undersized, except in New Zealand; skin tough, leathery, dark purple or nearly black when ripe. Mid-late season, medium sized fruit with good shipping qualities. Excellent taste and increasingly popular with the European market.
Pear shaped; medium size, skin medium- rough; flesh of fair quality. Tree large and bears regularly but not as heavily as Fuerte or Hass. Late Season, large seed, medium vigour tree.
Early crop, roundish, late, pear shaped with neck; medium size, skin medium- leathery. Rated as of good quality but inferior to Hass and Fuerte; tends to darken in the latter part of the season. Mid season, high yielding, occasionally post-harvest problems after storage.
Round; medium to large (227 – 510g) skin slightly rough; medium – thick, faintly nutty flavour; does not darken when cut and rated as excellent quality. It bears early regularly; and is sensitive to cold.
Pear shaped; medium size; skin olive green, slightly rough, flesh of high quality, nutty flavour and rated as excellent.Cultivar is disease resistant.
Commercial avocado cultivars are best suited to cool, subtropical conditions with average daily temperatures between 20 and 25C. Light frost can be tolerated but not during flowering and fruit set (August to September). Average temperatures during flowering and fruit set should preferably be above 18C.
All avocado cultivars that are grown commercially in SA are known to be sensitive to water stress. A well distributed rainfall in excess of 1000 mm p.a. is desirable, although most avocado production regions experience a dry period during flowering. In the vast majority of cases, therefore, supplementary irrigation during this period is essential.