The demand for avocado plants continues to increase as the popularity and consumption of this fruit keep growing worldwide. While the avocado plants sold until now were grafted on seed or clonal rootstocks obtained by the traditional double grafting method, a nursery in Huelva has succeeded, for the first time, in grafting its avocado plants on clonal rootstocks from in vitro culture.
"We are the first in the world to obtain commercial avocado plants grafted on clonal rootstocks from in vitro culture," says Juan Antonio García Romero, manager of Viveros Grajera. This method consists of using explants (plant fragments) from a single, selected mother plant to obtain genetically identical plants (clones) that are free of diseases. "We already had experience in the production of blueberry plants from in vitro cloning and, after several years of waiting, we have managed to apply it to avocado rootstocks, as well.
Among the advantages offered by the in vitro culture system are low production alternation, uniformity of vigor in the plants, regularity in the production, early entry into production, high productivity and plant health.
"This method allows 100% cloning," says the manager of this nursery in Huelva. Besides, the in vitro cloning method offers greater guarantees as regards the health of the plant, since the rootstocks come from selected plants, free from any kind of disease or problem," says Juan Antonio García.
"Now, thanks to this method, we can breed many more plants in much less time, which will be an advantage as a nursery in the face of the overflowing demand for avocado plants that there is at the moment. The news is being very well received and is generating a lot of interest from professionals in the sector."
The mother plant of the clonal rootstock with which this Huelva-based nursery is currently working is of the Degania variety, certified from Israel, from a mother field under mesh conditions in order to guarantee genetic purity.
"We started cloning the rootstock of this variety because it thrives in soils with a high percentage of clay and limestone and with high water salinity. These rootstocks make it possible to plant and grow avocados in areas where it wasn't possible with conventional rootstocks. This will allow us to set up plantations in soils with unfavorable conditions and farms with high conductivity irrigation water available. The varieties we are grafting the most on these rootstocks are the Hass, Bacon, Fuerte and, recently, Lamb Hass, for which we have obtained a license for multiplication," says the manager of this company.
Based in the municipality of Bonares, in the province of Huelva, Viveros Grajera produces avocado, blueberry and pistachio plants. Avocados are the crop for which we have more demand, and of which we have greater volumes. We are already the second largest avocado nursery in Europe, with a production of 500,000 avocado plants already sold and reserved for 2022.
"Both Huelva and the Algarve in Portugal are, together with Cadiz and the Region of Valencia, the areas where most avocados are being planted in the Iberian Peninsula and, therefore, where there is more demand for plants. We are also seeing demand from other countries, such as Italy and Greece," says Juan Antonio García.