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TAS Country : March 10th 2011
8 Tasmanian Country Friday, March 11, 2011 News A Tasmanian farmer is producing surprisingly good avocados, reports Karolin MacGregor AVOCADOS can be grown in Tasmania and Dick and Lois Shaw have plenty to prove it. The Shaws started growing avocados at their Spreyton property about 15 years ago when they were looking for something different to plant on their acreage. ''Obviously, this is a pretty good area for growing apples and pears, but everyone was doing that here, so we decided to try something else,'' Mr Shaw said. After visiting some avocado growers in New Zealand, Mr Shaw said they decided to give it a go and planted their first trees. ''We decided we'd plant 20 and just see how they went, but then we thought it was going to take too long, so we just went ahead and put 100 in,'' he said. Mr Shaw said because avocados are normally grown in warmer more tropical areas it was very much a case of trial and error. The Shaws planted about six different varieties to try to spread out the supply season. Mr Shaw said their property, which was protected from some winds by a section of adjoining bush, could be quite chilly and frosts were not uncommon. ''We really didn't know how they would go here, and we learnt a lot in the first few years,'' Mr Shaw said. One of the critical periods is after the trees are first planted. ''You need to stop them from fruiting for at least the first couple of years because they need to put down good root structure,'' he said. ''It can be a bit tempting to leave the fruit on there, but you have to be a bit strict on yourself and pick them off in those first couple of years.'' Mr Shaw said soil type was one of the most important factors for growing avocados, which like well-drained and fertile soil. The trees flower in late spring and early summer and set fruit. Then it takes 12-13 months for the avocados to grow big enough to harvest. Mr Shaw said one of the major advantages of avocados was they they do not ripen until they are picked. ''They will mature but they won't actually ripen until about seven to 10 days after you pick them,'' he said. Judging by the amount of fruit hanging off the Shaws' trees, they are thriving. Mr Shaw said it was important to irrigate the avocados during the summer months if conditions were dry. ''Where they grow normally it's in a more tropical environment, so they have wet summers and drier winters,'' he said. In warmer areas with very good soil, avocados trees can grow quite tall, but Mr Shaw said the relatively poor soil on their property kept them smaller, which did make picking the fruit easier. A layer of mulch is kept around the base of the trees to prevent weeds and grass from growing and to ensure the tree roots are not competing for moisture and nutrients. All steamed up for Sheffield fest SIGHTS rarely seen in Tasmania and the rest of Australia will greet visitors to SteamFest 2011. Steam-powered chaff cutting, straw pressing, threshing, rock crushing, woodcutting and a Yorkshire Steam wagon called Ethel are just some of the displays and exhibits the public can look forward to at Sheffield this weekend. SteamFest organiser Chris Martin said ma- jor upgrades had taken place to improve the facilities on the site. Mr Martin said power and water supplies and speaker cables had been installed by youth workers. ''They have also done a fantastic job, cleaning up the grounds, painting buildings, completing a concrete plinth at the base of the walls for the new display hall and erecting a roof over the container used for storage of SteamFest equip- ment,'' Mr Martin said. ''There is something about the sight and smell of the steam engine which captivates people and it is always pleasing to watch the crowds enjoy the working displays.'' For more information talk to your Pfizer Sheep Product Specialist on 1800 335 374. *Erysipelas is one of a number of causes of arthritis in sheep. 1. Graham Lean & Associates (2009). Cost benefit analysis of Eryvac in commercial sheep flocks. Pfizer data on file. Vaccinating your ewes pre-lambing can protect your lambs from Erysipelas* arthritis, which can cause lameness, painful and swollen joints and depression, all of which lead to hefty production losses. Economic modelling has shown that vaccination with Eryvac makes economic sense. Protecting your lambs from Erysipelas can improve your profits by up to 85 cents per DSE in prime lamb flocks and 59 cents per DSE in wool flocks.1 So stop Erysipelas arthritis crippling your profits and protect your flock with Eryvac . Arthritis cripples your profits Sheep Health. Performance. Growth. www.pfizeranimalhealth.com.au Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd. 38--42 Wharf Road, West Ryde NSW 2114. Registered trademark of Pfizer. Freecall: 1800 335 374 PAL0358/TC
March 3rd 2011
March 17th 2011