Green gold new normal

High avocado prices new normal this time of year but there's more to come


Horticulture
Graham, David and Graham Anderson, Duranbah via Tweed Heads, have a three year waiting list for their avocado rootstock as the industry expands exponentially.

Graham, David and Graham Anderson, Duranbah via Tweed Heads, have a three year waiting list for their avocado rootstock as the industry expands exponentially.

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Incredible demand for avocados has seen prices spike during the current product shortage but that will change as new trees come on line.

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Despite the hype, there are no market gremlins behind the sudden and “unexpected” price spike in avocados last week. It was always going to be.

The vast majority of New south Wales’ growers pick their fruit mid-year, and as a result prices fall with the surge in supply to around $30-$40, as they were last season.

Right now, after a poor harvest in New Zealand and a no more avocados to pick in west Australia, the market bins are empty creating net returns to growers around $70/tray and upwards of $100 for 10kg bulk. Best prices go to premium fruit however with grower and packer Ian Tolson, Stewarts Point via Macksville, reporting that product of high grade is unusual at this time of year.

By next month Queensland Shepherd varieties will come into the market and prices will fall.

“It’s been like this for the last few years,” said Mr Tolson. “It is nothing new.”

There remains one grower, on the eastern edge of the Comboyne Plateau, west of Port Macquarie, who is still picking late fruit – as he has done through all the previous January price spikes.

His is a risky business. By leaving avocados on the tree well after the local season, which on the cool Comboyne can go into October, there is the danger that trees will abort next year’s crop.

It’s been like this for the last few years - Ian Tolson, avocado packer, Stuarts Point

Avocados are in a green gold rush at the moment. With the incredible surge in consumer demand has come mass plantings which have led to a severe shortfall of rootstock. 

Anderson’s nursery at Duranbah, via Tweed Heads, supplies the nation with  rootstock – some of it descending from Graham Anderson’s own selections, 50 years ago.

Right now there is a three year wait for rootstock up to five years for elite varieties like vigorous Velvick and Zutano, which likes cooler climate. 

Newest orchards are experimenting with higher planting rates – four times the norm or 2200 trees/ha with the idea that young trees will produce most prolifically and as they mature, competing rows can be thinned.

Emerging avocado rootstock at Anderson's nursery.

Emerging avocado rootstock at Anderson's nursery.

Chief Executive Officer of Avocados Australia, John Tyas, praised the anderson family for its role in quantifying data on groundbreaking tissue culture experimentation which, if successful, will change the nature of root stock propogation.

Export protocal, proving that hard green avocados off the tree can be delivered to countries like Japan with no fruit fly or medfly, is the next target in the industry’s sights.

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