Dr Elizabeth Dann kicked off discussions on avocado research with a special seminar at FABI on 8 October. Dr Dann is a plant pathologist with the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, a research institute at the University of Queensland in Australia. She was at FABI to commemorate 10 years since the founding of the Avocado Research Programme, led by Professor Nöelani van den Berg. Her seminar, “Avocado pathology research in Australia”, highlighted disease challenges to avocado production in Australia. 

Nearly all the avocado grown in Australia is consumed domestically, said Dr Dann. There were however, “lots of sick trees”, she said, which hampered growers’ ability to grow more. Though Phytophthora root rot – caused by infection of the pathogen, Phytophthora cinnamomi – cost the industry millions of dollars in losses, other diseases also posed a threat to avocado production. Dr Dann cited black root rot and stem-end rot as serious diseases of avocado. 

She listed buying avocado stock from “good nurseries” and increasing hardening off periods to cull weaker trees and the use of fungicides as some of the practices growers can implement to manage these diseases.