Elliotts Wholesale Nursery offers a wide range of easy care feijoa varieties. Elliotts offer customers detailed information including tips and tricks on growing, pruning, pollination, irrigation and how to manage climatic situations.
The Feijoa tree is shallow rooted and drought tolerant but benefits from irrigation in very dry years. It is a very adaptable plant producing in semi-arid to temperate conditions. Profitability depends on good agronomic conditions supported by an organised management structure. Production starts 2-3 years after planting, gaining full production after 5-8 years and remaining highly productive for many decades.
Feijoas come in a range of varieties. Below is what Elliotts stock. Each variety has different characteristics and growing capabilities.
Easy to grow. Along with Unique, it is the benchmark for commercial feijoa varieties. Sweet and juicy.
A new one that is a very early, heavy cropper. Excellent flavour and large fruit. Unique is the ideal pollinator.
Very large fruit are produced early in the season. Heavy cropping.
The suggested pollinator for Tagan I. Slightly smaller fruit but very good flavour.
Small to medium sized fruit with a rough light green skin. The pulp is mild and aromatic with a juicy delicate flavour. The only genuine self-fertile variety. Early to mid-season.
A late variety as feijoas go. Has a very bushy habit making it ideal for hedging.
Feijoas can be successfully grown from Invercargill to Kaitia. Warm North facing sites in some cooler areas will provide an excellent site for growing feijoas. Earlier varieties such as Arhart and Unique are more likely to fruit and ripen in the south island.
It is rare that a site cannot be made suitable. Optimum soil conditions are a pH of 5-7and a soil type varying from sandy or gravely loam to clay loam, high clay content would need adjustment. Medium fertility, appropriate quantities of macro-elements applied at the correct time and organic matter are required. All soils need fertilizer and water.
Correct fertilization is necessary for good quality fruit and high yields, especially with an irrigated system. The production potential is directly related to a careful fertilizing programme on young trees and a maintenance programme on yielding trees. In order to return estimated average removal of nutrients, it is recommended that fertilizer timing be used to maintain a high level of reserves during the critical periods, i.e. active growth, flowering and fruit set (Nov-Dec). Excessive Nitrogen will cause soft growth and will prejudice the tree towards wind rock, with resulting root disease. There will also be the risk of an increased incidence of Verticillium Wilt.
Calcium is usually needed. The correct pH is within a large range so pH is not that significant. An annual dressing of NPK 12-6-12 or any other mix with a NPK ratio of 2-1-2 is appropriate.
The best time to plant is dependent on many factors mainly associated with local climatic conditions. Availability of irrigation may also be a factor. For most areas of New Zealand either spring or autumn planting is recommended and the following guidelines may help:
- For areas subject to cold winters plant in spring.
- For areas with mild winter conditions and/or subject to dry summers, plant in autumn.
The majority of Feijoa varieties require cross pollination hence the planting of more than one variety is necessary to ensure good fruit set. Pollination is generally undertaken by birds, which are attracted to the brightly coloured flowers. Blackbirds in the South Island and a combination of blackbirds and mynas in the North Island are the main pollinators. It is generally necessary to have more than one variety to ensure cross-pollination, with alternating rows per variety the most practical arrangement. Only Unique is sufficiently self-fertile to be planted as a single block cultivar.
Feijoas don't need to be pruned however older plants can benefit from a prune to help them keep a nice shape. Ideal pruning time is early Spring (August) before flower buds have set. The main pruning we carry out is to remove lower branches to make fruit picking easier.
Home gardeners usually wait for the fruit to drop from the trees. Commercially, fruit needs to be in good condition for longer periods and therefore needs hand harvesting or netting of the trees. After some initial fruit has begun to fall test fruit on trees by giving them a gentle wiggle to tell if ready. The main harvest is April – May in cooler areas and from February - April in the North.
Feijoas are incredibly drought tolerant but in saying this good availability of water through the summer will greatly improve fruit consistency and size. Although irrigation may not be absolutely necessary it does make a huge difference if conditions get dry.
Feijoa trees will tolerate frosts during the winter, but reaching -10°C air temp for any length of time could be lethal. The fruit can also frost at anything below about -3°C so it is important not to plant where temperatures of less than -3°C can be expected between March and mid June, depending on variety. Not with standing this they require a minimum of a 1000GDD to successfully crop and avoid severe winter frosts. As for an additional 300GDD the fruit ripens 1 month earlier. Refer to GDD map North and South Island. Trees are brittle and more susceptible to wind damage than other fruit trees. Shelter from North-Easterly and North-Westerly winds will improve production and quality. Keep air drainage though; as stagnant air pockets will cause disease build up. They need a high amount of sunlight per day. So south facing sites can be a disadvantage.
Strong winds can affect Feijoa fruit production. Orchard shelter should always be regarded as a necessity for commercial plantings and ideally should be established before the crop is planted. Shelter from prevailing wind helps Feijoa production in the following ways:
- Helps protect the fruit from both leaf and limb rub.
- Protects against limb breakages.
- Reduces water loss from soil and leaves.
- Creates a more favourable microclimate for fruit ripening. Well sheltered blocks can be 2°C warmer than exposed ones. This can be particularly important in cooler, marginal areas.