Avocado Orchardist Swears by Manuka Mulch for Plant Growth & Health

With maturity a month earlier than most other growers and consistently the earliest in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, Opotiki avocado orchardist, Grant Fraser, credits much of his success to mulching.

“Mulching is one of the things I’ve done consistently since I’ve started because it protects the surface feeding roots, suppresses weeds and locks in the moisture,” agrees Grant.

Based just 10km east of Opotiki within easy access to New Zealand Mānuka Group (previous Coast Biologicals) and their KōLUSH Mānuka mulch, Grant has been using the bi-product since he built his four hectare orchard over 20 years ago.

“I mulch every year and especially during replanting,” he explains. “Of my 800 Hass avocado trees, I’ve recently replaced some with 500 Phytophthora-resistent cloned trees which benefit greatly from the mulch.”

While Grant has tried many other mulches over the years, he has stuck with the Mānuka mulch and now uses only clone trees to help prevent Phytophthora attacking his orchard.Phytophthora cinnamomi, more commonly known as avocado root rot is a soil fungus which attacks the soft, white feeder roots of the avocado tree and is widespread in many avocado producing areas around the world.

Mulching creates humous in the soil as it breaks down and, when it’s mixed with trace elements and minerals such as those found in seaweed, can effective boost plant health and growth without the need for any extra additives or chemicals.

“I’ve tried using most other mulches,” explains Grant. But I like the aged KōLUSH mulch because it’s easy to spread, it breaks down fairly slowly and the trees respond favourably.

“The most important reason for mulching is to keep the area just outside the root-line covered.All my young trees have 3-4 inches of Mānuka mulch on them – it means I don’t have to weed and it supports spring plantings over a dry summer.”

KōLUSH Garden Mulch is available as Mānuka or Mānuka+Seaweed.Both are made from bi-products of New Zealand Mānuka Group’s processing operations to produce Mānuka oil.The resulting mulch was originally only used by East Cape landowner partners who put it back onto their Mānuka plantations.However, as the plantations and oil processing activities have grown, the mulch was then offered to local gardeners and orchardists, and is now available through Farmlands stores nationwide.