The cultivation of avocados in pots has been very successful in several key producing countries, such as Mexico and Chile. Now, this innovative technique has arrived in Colombia, as it seeks to continue building its presence in international markets.
Avocados have quickly become one of the most popular products in Colombia’s agricultural portfolio. Cartama Group Research, Development and Innovation Coordinator Sara Bedoya tells freshFruitPortal.com that the company continues to explore new avocado growing and improvement techniques.
The pot-grown avocado project in particular was born out of curiosity, as well as a concern to understand the behavior of the plant under this new production system. Additionally, the method had the potential to help producers grow avocados in otherwise unsuitable land.
“We have seen that some of our production units have lots that are definitely not suitable for planting avocado crops, mainly because of the clay content and high moisture retention; therefore, this practice would imply a better use of the areas, thus increasing productivity,” Bedoya says.
Bedoya indicates that they have used standard production trees (grafts) and clonal trees, but that the former can be somewhat limited by root development. “Today we are evaluating different types of substrates and different types of rootstocks to expand production. Our goal is to find an alternative that is economical, but resistant, and that meets all the necessary attributes so that the tree can develop properly,” she says.
Cartama’s research area currently has 90 trees in pots, which are continuously measured for data such as growth and development, temperature and electrical conductivity, among other variables.
“We hope that in two more years we’ll have the first pot-avocado grown harvest, although we have already seen a small fruit set. For regular farms, the first harvest usually comes within three or four years,” she adds.
Regarding the results obtained to date, Bedoya indicates that the plants have developed very well and are on a very good growth curve. Pot-grown avocado trees can yield up to 88 pounds of fruit, thanks to more controlled conditions.
“One of the advantages of this methodology is the control that can be exercised over the plants, such as better phytosanitary management, nutrition, humidity, electrical conductivity and pH in the substrate,” Bedoya explains.