South Africa: Maluma Day attendance to soar amid strong global development

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South Africa: Maluma Day attendance to soar amid strong global development

Hundreds of avocado industry players are set to meet in South Africa next week at the eighth annual Maluma Day hosted by Allesbeste Nursery, as development of the variety continues around the globe. 

The event will be held at Merensky High School in Tzaneen on March 7 and 8, with almost 400 people expected to attend - around 100 more than last year.

A mix of professionals from countries including South Africa, Spain, the U.S., Australia, Israel, Chile and Peru will come together to the event to learn and share information. 

"I think it’s quite nice to have everyone from researchers, farmers, consultants and nurserymen in one place. Usually it’s a very nice networking day and it’s going to become an important date on the world avocado calendar," Allesbeste's Zander Ernst told Fresh Fruit Portal.

"The nice thing is that it’s not only about the cultivar itself - it’s become more and more 'where do we go with avocados?'"

He explained that Maluma Day - which will again be streamed live this year - had evolved significantly over the years and now focuses largely on improving farmers' production capabilities with an array of innovative methods.

"Maluma is suited for different methods of production, which opens up a whole new landscape," Ernst said.

"We look at how we can modernize avocado farming worldwide, how we can grow with the world's trends in production and become more adapted to the environment. We also talk about things like marketing, irrigation, and trials with trellising and rootstocks."

"So it's a whole modern approach to improving production as a whole and not just a cultivar on its own. I think it becomes a very realistic approach in terms of increasing the longevity and sustainability of the farmers."

One key area in which Allesbeste has been experimenting over recent years has been with trellising, in a bid to see "how we can push the boundaries of production".

As an example, Ernst said trellises were now being used that can lift up the higher branches that are often weighed down by the large fruit, overshadowing the branches below. He explained results so far had been "very promising", and that by opening up the tree it was easier to spray and identify which branches to prune.

He added flowers even developed straight from the stem of the trees, so growers didn't need to be worried about pruning aggressively.

"We have found that the trees can bear fruit on branches younger than 12 months old, which gives farmers the ability to rejuvenate the trees throughout the cycle every year. So just after taking your crop off you can start gearing up for the next production," he said. 

Ernst also said tree demand was "growing by the day", and Allesbeste's orders had not slowed even with new nurseries opening up over the last year.

"At the moment we’re already taking orders for 2026," he said.

"At the end of the day it’s still a high-value crop so it allows the farmer to keep on developing it. We haven't seen a decline in development because of higher prices of trees."

South Africa may be the leading Maluma-producing country at present, but Ernst pointed out volumes were set to see exponential growth from Peru.

"They have actually expanded at a rate that no one really saw coming in the industry. They have basically hit a point where within a year or so they will be the largest Maluma-producing country in the world," he said.

He also highlighted Australia, Spain and Israel as three other countries that were seeing strong growth

As for the South African avocado season that is now getting underway, the representative said it looks as though the industry would produce "probably one of the best crops that we've had in the last decade."

"All the varieties are producing well," he said.

He noted there had been some hail events in growing regions but did not expect volumes to take too much of a hit, adding expectations were high for fruit quality this season.

Related stories: Fresh Fruit TV: Can avocado trees be trellised like apples?

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