Australian researchers have made a major breakthrough in the growing of avocados, potentially ensuring that farmers can keep up with the ever-increasing demand for the fruit. Horticultural scientists from the University of Queensland – the state that grows most of the nation's avocados – have devised a way to use a single millimeter of a tree cutting to create up to 500 new trees. Until now, each cutting only produces one new tree.
The innovation is likely to transform the already financially fruitful industry, which is worth about US$ 386.8 million annually, with every Australian consuming about 3.8 kilograms of avocados each year.
Project leader Professor Neena Mitter has stated: "Every single cell in a cutting can grow into a new plant by giving it the proper nutrition, proper light and darkness conditions, and right temperature."
Mitter added that avocado growers currently wait up to three years from placing their order at a nursery to putting a tree in the ground. With the new system, that time will be cut to about a year. Unlike traditional avocado propagation, where trees must be grown in fields for seed production, the new process enables 25,000 plants to be produced in a 10-m2 room.
Trials of the process, using the popular Hass variety of avocado, are already underway in the states of Queensland, Western Australia, and New South Wales.