Tough year for avocados with weather and virus challlenges

Avocado May 29, 2020

Avocado forecasts expected to be slightly up in northern NSW despite weather and virus challenges
An avocado grower in New South Wales is looking forward to the season ahead, estimating volumes across the region could be slightly up on previous years.

Ian Tolson is a board member of Avocados Australia Limited and owns an orchard at Stuarts Point on the state's Mid North Coast. He and his wife Alison have been growing avocados since 1996, on their 100-hectare property at Stuarts Point and are in the process of developing a 40-hectare avocado property in Comboyne. They plan is to commence harvesting fruit in two weeks’ time.

The growth in production led to the formation of Avorama Pty Ltd, an off-site packing shed on the outskirts of Stuarts Point, in which fruit is packed for other growers.

Harvest season for the Tolson’s will be from June through to October, however, Avorama's main packing season will be June through to November, tapering off and finishing in February 2021.

Mr Tolson says while crop estimates are expected to exceed previous years, the drought was a major concern. However, rain events commencing in January have allowed the fruit to fill and the season is looking far better than expected. With supply going into all the major domestic markets, like most growers, the Tolsons have had to manage impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Premiums are looking good into the chain stores," Mr Tolson said. "Exports are still OK. First and second-grade fruit has been a little harder, due to the scaling back of foodservice industries, but we (the industry) have been pushing growers to produce premium grade fruit. We have tried to lift the quality of our fruit as much as possible over the years, so we shouldn't be too bad."

Quality has always been a main driver for Mr Tolsons’s sales, which he puts down to good tree management during the growing phase.

"You have to keep your trees pruned so that you have fresh growth, nutrition, spray and irrigation programmes are required to produce premiums," he said.

It is not just growing avocados and the Avorama Packing and marketing facility, but the Tolsons also have a Norco depot where they sell products and materials such as fertilisers, sprays plus products for pets and the home gardener and a transport depot where growers of other fruit, vegetables and flowers can leave their produce for transportation to central markets.

Hass season proving popular with consumers

New season Hass avocados are back in season, with a solid supply of local avocados currently being picked and packed.

Avocados Australia CEO John Tyas said in light of a hot, dry summer and COVID-19 there has never been a year quite like this for the Australian avocado industry, but avocado lovers can still expect to find plenty of delicious avos in store.

“Following a very hot and dry summer in most growing regions and now dealing with the impacts of a global pandemic, this year has been tough for many growers,” Mr Tyas said. “Hass avocados represent around 80 per cent of the total avocado supply in Australia and is the dominant variety from now until February next year. All the avocado growers appreciate how everyone has continued to support the industry and fresh local produce. It’s always been the case that more than 95 per cent of our locally grown avocados are enjoyed in Australia, by Australians.”

New research by YouGov Galaxy found that more than 53 per cent of Australians buy Hass avocados regularly or consider them their preferred avocado variety.

Mr Tyas says the 'nutrient-dense fruit' also has a number of impressive health benefits; the unique combination of vitamins and minerals found in a single serve of avocado can help keep your immune system fighting fit, boost energy, enhance brain power, build bone, aid gut health, support healthy skin and even put you in a better mood.

“Avocados have a whole host of nutrients that can improve our diets, especially while we are spending more time at home,” Mr Tyas said. “Much more than just a brunch staple, avocados are a delicious fruit that can be used in every meal, drinks included, no matter what time of day.”

Source: Fresh Plaza

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