That Hass avocado breed is the most popular East Africa avocado, it is high in protein and mineral content, source of high-quality cholesterol and is used in cosmetics, is not new to many farmers that have been in the business for a while. What has changed ovetime is the methodology of growing the fruit to reap more yields to uplift the livelihood of farmers.
Hass avocado, whose skin turns dark purple when ripe, has gradually taken over other traditional varieties, according to agronomist Ronald Muhangi of the White Oak Farm, a company spearheading avocado production in most parts of Uganda.
“Hass avocado can be grown in any part of Uganda because it is friendly to all the soils. The tree doesn’t grow so tall and is grafted to have a short stem that makes it easier for harvesting,” Muhangi reveals. He adds that Hass avocado is not as vulnerable to pests and diseases, and its fruits have a longer shelf life compared to other types. Farmers are urged to try out this quality variety, which grows in areas that are not swampy and is easy to look after.
Why Hass avocado
Hass avocado is a variety of avocado with dark green coloured rough surface. Hass avocado is a large-sized fruit weighing 200 to 300 grams. When ripe, the skin becomes a dark purplish-black and yields to gentle pressure. When ready to serve, it becomes white-green in the middle part of the inner fruit. Owing to its taste, size, shelf-life, high growing yield and in some areas, year-round harvesting is possible.
Hass avocado is the most commercially popular avocado worldwide. It is also the most nutritive among fruits and is regarded as the most important contribution of the New World to human diet, according to Food and Agriculture Organisation (Fao). Hass avocados mature between two and three years, have a long-life span of more than 50 years.
Due to numerous challenges while farming traditional crops such as maize and other cash crops, including coffee and tea, the trend favours fruit tree farming. There is also a decline in major fruit producing countries in the southern hemisphere such as Mexico and South Africa due to climate change, which is favouring countries in the tropics Uganda inclusive.
Muhangi advises prospective farmers to plant each seedling in a two feet deep and four feet wide hole. “Make sure you have a sufficient water source and organic fertilisers,” says Muhangi.
It can be harvested after three years, depending on how you look after it with manure and regular irrigation. While they grow, farmers are required to trim the tops so that they are less leaves and more fruits.
Usually, the first trial harvest gives less fruits (10-30) per tree, you can consume that at home. The next harvests after six months is the real bumper harvest because it gives 30-50 fruits.
The site for planting avocados should be free from anthills, be levelled or gentle-sloped and well sheltered from strong winds.
Land should be properly ploughed and harrowed to remove all perennial weeds. It is also advisable to plant maize or sunflower one year before planting the avocados.
The square planting pattern is applied, that is, a spacing of 10mx10m or 10mx8m (rectangular) to give plant populations of 100 and 125 trees per hectare, respectively.
Planting holes are dug 45cmx4cmx45cm. Holes are filled with top soil mixed with about 30 kilogrammes of manure and 125 grams of DSP.
The trees are delivered in polythene bags and carefully removed to cause very little disturbance to the roots. The trees are usually planted at a higher level than they were in the nursery to allow for settling. After planting, they are watered and mulched. The best time to plant is when the long rains are starting.
Normally, no pruning is required besides the removal of broken and diseased branches and trimming those touching the ground. Sucker growth is checked to remove shoots coming out of the rootstock.
The orchard should be weed-free. It is recommended to have vegetables growing between the rows of young plantations.
Nothing should be planted closer than two metres from the tree. Higher crops such as maize and sunflower should not be intercropped with the avocado.
To have good production of avocados, irrigation is necessary, especially during the dry period.
The quantity of water applied depends on the moisture characteristics of the soil and age of the trees. It, however, varies from 25-35 litres per tree per fortnight. Since avocados are intolerant to salinity, the water used must be free from salts.
For maximum growth and optimum yields, it is important to supply the avocado with the necessary nutrients. It is, however, dangerous to give excessive amounts on any size of trees at a go as it may cause root damage, leaf burn and defoliation. The type of fertiliser to be used depends on soil pH. In the planting year, it is advisable not to top-dress the orchard since this may retard root development during the first four to five months after planting.
After this period, 60g of 26 per cent Nitrogen fertiliser should be applied after every three months when the soil is moist. In addition, about 25 kilogrammes of well-rotten manure should be spread around the trees after each year.
About Hass Avocado
It is of high quality and inside, it is not too sweet, not too watery, has soft taste and hard skin. It can grow anywhere in Uganda.
Avocado is eaten worldly
The best varieties consumed in Uganda come from Kenya although originally Hass Avocado is reported to have originated from Guatemala. A farmer can intercrop his Hass Avocado plantation with soya beans and crops that do not grow so tall. These crops add some nutrients to the soil.
If you are a farmer seeking diversity in agribusiness and you have not started growing Hass avocado up now, you’re missing out a great deal. Ronald Muhangi a crop expert from White Oak Farm; a private enterprise on Mityana Road championing the production of the lucrative fruit on the trending practices that can help Ugandan farmers maximise the unquenchable national and global market.