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Demand for rootstock signals industry confidence
10 November 2015

Some Bay of Plenty avocado orchards are having to wait up to two years to replace their trees with clonal rootstock as demand for new trees hits an all time high.

New Zealand’s specialist avocado nurseries are so run off their feet with orders, they’ve closed their books for this season and next and are now taking orders for delivery in 2017.

Driving this demand is new orchard developments in the Far North and Wellsford as well as extensive replanting programmes across all growing regions, including the Bay of Plenty. It’s in the Bay where the bulk of all fruit – almost two-thirds - is grown for both export and domestic markets.

AVOCO, the country’s largest export supply group, is excited by what renewed orchard developments mean for the industry long term.

Director Alistair Young says the replanting programmes and new orchards will help to boost New Zealand’s production over the next decade and help meet global demand for the world’s latest super fruit.

“Right now, New Zealand’s export volume can’t keep up with the demand we’re seeing coming out of Asia and Australia. Consumers worldwide are making healthier food choices, particularly in Japan, Singapore and Korea where consumers are very conscious about their diet and wellbeing.

“Orchardists are recognising this as an opportunity to grow their businesses by replacing older, less productive trees with rootstock which, over time, will increase our national supply for export.”

Lynwood Avocado Nursery, west of Whangarei, is New Zealand’s largest provider of clonal rootstock. Last year, it sold 20,000 young trees. This year it sold twice that and was forced to close its order book. Such is the demand from growers, owner Stephen Wade is planning to produce 80,000 avocado trees next year. His business, established in 1989 to produce trees for his own orchard, has been forced to rapidly expand and he now employs 14 staff as he works to double his nursery’s production.

Lynwood supplies its seedlings at around a year old, and the clonal rootstock between 12 and 18 months, and it’s the latter where the biggest demand is occuring, Mr Wade says.

“There’s been a lot of tree decline over the last decade or so and growers, especially those in the Bay of Plenty, are now opting to replace their trees with clonal rootstock.”

Clonal rootstock is considered more tolerant to Phytophthora root rot which is the major limiting factor of production worldwide.

Riversun Nursery near Gisborne has also been inundated with orders from new orchard developers and growers wanting to replant. It has already sold out for the 2016 spring and is facing really strong demand for the following year.

AVOCO director John Carroll says the avocado orchard rennanissance was a sign of confidence in the industry and its export leadership.

“With AVANZA, we’ve focused our energy on developing key Asian markets as well as looking after Australia, which remains our biggest market for New Zealand avocados.  Growers are responding and now have the confidence to reinvest in their orchards for the future.”

 

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