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Spain: Clonal avocado plants used in the Canary Islands to increase profitability
Ten years ago, a group of people with extensive agricultural experience made the decision to go for something completely different. They chose to plant avocados in order to try making them more profitable; a priority in agriculture, and they decided to do this by producing clonal plants. This is a way of cultivating avocados that, according to representatives of Viveros Las Breñas, has more advantages than traditional grafting.
They explain that "the plant produces larger fruits after 2 or 3 years, and it is also very productive, with more homogeneous and vigorous fruit, a better tolerance to saline waters, lower temperatures and alkaline soils and, above all, a resistance to the phytophthora fungus, which can kill the trees affected and for which there is still no treatment.
"We needed 10 years of research (fully funded by private investments), as well as great resiliency and dedication. We often felt tempted to throw in the towel and produce grafted plants, like everyone else, because there is a market for them and there was no need to make things more difficult, since producing an avocado plant with clonal patterns is twice as expensive, three times more complex and entails greater risks," points out Juan Fernando Afonso, managing director of Viveros Las Breñas, recalling the process they underwent to become the first authorised nursery in the Canary Islands to produce clonal plants.
"We presented every document and met every requirement that was demanded from us by the Plant Health Service and we were able to meet absolutely all legal requirements: we had our own facilities, had plots of our own property with accredited and verified plantations, and conducted DNA analyses of our DUKE-7 clonal patterns (the most produced in the world). At this time, we can say with certainly that we have the best plant in the Canary Islands, as well as a state-of-the-art laboratory for the production of avocados that has all the safety measures and disinfection protocols," assures Fernando Afonso.
He is proud to say that they have managed to produce "the most profitable avocado plant in the Canary Islands." When asked to elaborate on this, he affirms that "if you know that a clonal plant will help you earn more money than a traditional grafted plant, why would you plant something that you know in advance will result in you earning less?"
Avocados in the archipelago
Spain is the main producer of avocados in Europe and in the Canary Islands the crop has been recording a striking growth in recent years. The acreage devoted to its cultivation has increased by 58% in the last eight years, from 815 hectares in 2007 to 1,287 hectares in 2015, which yield about eight million kilos per year, according to data from the Council of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Water of the Government of the Canary Islands.
While still far behind the Islands' main crops (bananas, tomatoes, potatoes or vine), this subsector is no longer devoted almost exclusively to the domestic market, as it used to be in the past. Its growth, made possible by the fruit's demand overseas, has also made it possible to export to the Peninsula, France, Cape Verde and other African countries, according to the Canary Administration.
Publication date: 9/11/2017
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