New avocado cultivar ripe for market
The first avocado fruit has been picked and is on its way to fresh produce markets across southern Africa, according to South African farming enterprise, ZZ2.
ZZ2, mainly operates in the Limpopo Province, but also operates in Namibia where they produce deciduous medjool dates along the Orange River area. ZZ2 said this week on their website that their Afrikado brand is entering a new phase with the new plantings being harvested for the first time.
This week, two cultivators, Galil and Simmonds, were the first to be delivered to the Johannesburg and Pretoria fresh produce markets. One of the larger markets where Namibia gets its fresh produce from.
Last year, a major part of ZZ2’s avocado crop was destroyed by hail. “The new crop looks promising and we are excited about its prospects,” said Clive Garrett, marketing manager of ZZ2.
From the packhouse in Mooketsi, they were transported to ZZ2’s ripening facility in Lanseria where they are kept under ideal ripening conditions and delivered to supermarkets according to their requirements.
According to ZZ2, ‘ripe and ready’ avocados have been introduced to fulfil consumers’ need to have their avocado ready to use when bought. “A avocado only starts to ripen once it has been harvested; it does not ripen on the tree. Picking starts when the fruit’s moisture content is at a required level, depending on the cultivar. Fruit is hand-picked and stalks are trimmed with sanitised clippers,” they said.
“Lower-altitude orchards come into production in early March and trees at higher altitudes produce well into December, allowing ZZ2 to supply avocados for twelve months of the year,” said Garrett.
Approximately 20% of the crop is reserved for the local market. For export, avocados are mechanically sized, packed and then rapidly cooled in high-humidity coolers to 5,5°C, he said.
Garrett added that once cooled, the avocados are shipped to Europe, the Far East and the UK where they are ripened according to need. ZZ2 works very closely with the South African Avocado Growers’ Association (SAAGA) and other exporters to get the Chinese market open to South African avocados.
“The demand from China over the last few years has become enormous. Even the demand from South Africa’s old established markets is growing, as increasingly more people cotton on to the health benefits of avocados and their versatility,” he said.