Amazing Avocados | Daily News


Amazing Avocados


Today Garden Talk speaks to Additional Director Fruit Crop Research and Development Institute, Kananwila Horana, Dr. Shiromani Edirimanne on Avocado, one of the most nutritious fruits on earth.

"Avocado has high nutritional qualities and has high oil content. These oils are very good for health. The taste is also very appealing," Edirimanne noted initially. "It also has commercial value. At present a very limited amount of Avocados are exported, but not imported. We have different varieties of Avocado. All the recommended varieties are imported varieties and not local ones," she added.

More than 100 years ago avocado varieties were brought to Sri Lanka. We bought these varieties as plants and planted in our country. When they were brought to Sri Lanka, they were all exotic varieties. They originated in South America and West Indies. A large amount of varieties were imported, maybe 20 or 30.

"Most of the trees are seedling trees. Since they are seedling trees their characteristics are different from one tree to another. One tree may have large fruits, but another tree in the same field may have small fruits, not good quality. Normally we are propagating by grafting," pointed out Edirimanne. The six varieties - Pollock, Hass, Booth 7, Tower II, Fuerte and Simmonds are all exotic, imported from other countries. The qualities have been tested in our conditions and they are good and released as a variety.

"Now we are trying to popularize these varieties, but still most of the trees available are seedling trees. The character varies from one tree to another. To popularize these varieties, we have to prepare grafted plants," added Edirimanne

This is a cross pollinated crop. The flower has two parts- male and female. In one flower if it is mixed together, it is called self- pollination. If it is taken from another tree it is cross pollination. It is a highly cross pollinated crop.

"Due to Cross pollination, if we get ten seeds from one tree, after planting, these ten trees will be different from one to another. If we plant a grafted plant within three or four years it will start to flower. A seedling plant will take seven to eight years. Fruits take nearly three months to mature.

The seedling tree is normally taller than the grafted plant," explained Edirimanne.

The plant prefers a somewhat cool climate with low temperature. It is suited for Kandy and Nuwaraeliya. It is normally grown in the Wet Zone. It needs well drained soil. Not water logging conditions. "Somewhat higher rainfall is needed, approximately 1500mm per year. Temperature should be 23 Celsius - 26 Celsius," she added.

Avocado planters too have to deal with pests and diseases. There is a pest called 'Fruit Fly' and a disease called Anthracnose.

"The fruit fly lays eggs in the fruit and when the worms come out, they eat the fruit and it rots. When black patches appear on the fruits, it is due to the Anthracnose disease. For the fruit fly, we use bait. Protein Bait is mixed with insecticide. It is sprayed onto a small branch. Protein bait is the attracting agent. The fly sucks at the insecticide and dies.

Methyl Eugenol is like a hormone. We take a plastic bottle and make two small holes at each end and insert two pipes. Next we put a small amount of Methyl Eugenol into a cotton wool and put it inside the bottle. The fruit fly is attracted and comes into the bottle through the pipes. So this bottle is kept in the garden. The flies come inside, but can't go out and after two or three days they die," she said. For Anthracnose an insecticide is sprayed. But this is done only in the flowering stage or early fruiting. The fungus will die, but we can't spray it in the mature stage because the substance may enter our bodies.

"It has many culinary uses. Normally in Sri Lanka, we use it as a fresh fruit. We can even prepare a drink. In other countries, they use it as sandwich filler. In some countries they prepare avocado oil. Avocados are also used for pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

In Sri Lanka, too people are trying to produce Avocado oil. But the problem is most of the varieties we have here contain a very low oil content. Seedling trees have a low oil content, which makes extraction difficult," explained Edirimanne. 


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