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Micro-cloning powers South African avocado production

Allesbeste Nursery, established in the 1980s, has been expanded many times. Yet the end is still not in sight, according to Zander Ernst, the company’s director of marketing and production. The growing of trees from seedlings or clones is a crucial step in fruit production. The way in which trees are propagated, handled and managed in a nursery contributes not only to their survival rate after planting, but their subsequent growth performance and uniformity, which in turn affects fruit-bearing.

A number of nurseries in South Africa supply local and international avocado producers with trees. One of these is the Allesbeste Nursery situated in the picturesque Magoebaskloof area near Tzaneen in Limpopo. The nursery was established in the 1980s and is currently managed by Llewellyn van Zyl. Certified by the Avocado Nurserymen’s Association, the nursery is recognized for providing superior-quality avocado trees and currently holds an ANA five-star grading for its quality and hygiene standards.

According to Zander Ernst, director of marketing and production at Allesbeste, the avocado industry has identified a number of production pitfalls over the past couple of years that directly affect tree health and productivity.

Developing a cloning technique
Beginning in the 1990s, the Allesbeste team developed and commercially implemented a micro-cloning technique. Derived from the so-called Frolich method, which is used by nurseries worldwide, Allesbeste’s approach involves positioning micro-containers over the etiolated shoots that develop from a ‘nurse graft’. The shoots are then grafted to a commercial scion cultivar and the fully developed clones later separated from the nurse seedling. A wholesale nursery then transplants the clones.



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