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Fruit
 
                   
 
 
Site selection
Cultivar selection
Flowering
Tree management
Fruit harvest
Pests and diseases
Australian guava moth
References
 

Feijoas

 

Introduction

The feijoa (Acca sellowiana) is a member of the Myrtaceae family and is native to southern Brazil and Uruguay. In Brazil it is found in the Araucaria forests on the high plains of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Parana. Feijoas were introduced to Europe in 1890 by the French botanist Edouard André and have since become a common tree in many countries, although the modern feijoa cultivars are distant cousins of the original specimen introduced by André (Table 1).

 

Table 1: Feijoa cultivars and their attributes.

 

Cultivar Fruit size Sensory attributes Harvest season storage
Unique Medium-large Soft & juicy flesh, mildly aromatic. Very early season, does not require cross-pollination.
Gemini Medium Strong acid flavour. Early season, good storage life.
Pounamu Medium Good flavour. Early season, good storage life.
Apollo Very large (>260 g) Sweet with excellent flavour. Mid-season, delicate, good storage life.
Kakapo Medium Good flavour. Mid-season.
Opal Star Medium-large Excellent smooth flesh, mild flavour. Late season, good storage qualities
Wiki Tu Large-very large Sweet with good flavour. Late season.
Triumph Medium Good flavour. Late season.

 

Management

Site selection

The feijoa tree is hardy and will grow almost anywhere in New Zealand. However, late-maturing cultivars may not be suitable for cooler regions because early winter frost can damage fruit before they ripen.

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Cultivar selection

Most cultivars require cross-pollination to produce good quality fruit. Lack of cross-pollination can result in small fruit or hollow fruit with little or no pulp development. Planting a self-fertile cultivar such as Unique, which has self-fertile flowers (see Table 1, above), is an option for the home gardener.

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Flowering

Flowering begins around November and continues for four to six weeks. Feijoas are pollinated by birds that feed on the sweet and juicy petals of the brightly coloured flowers. In New Zealand, the most important bird species for pollinating feijoa flowers are blackbirds (Turdus merula) and mynas (Acridotheres tristis). Invertebrates and small birds visit feijoa flowers but are ineffective pollinators.

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Tree management

Prune to provide access for birds so that they can move freely amongst the branches during flowering and to allow easier fruit harvesting.

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Fruit harvest

Fruits are ready to harvest in March to June. Feijoa fruit attain optimum harvest maturity just prior to the time of natural fruit drop. Most home gardeners usually collect mature fruit from the ground, but fruits are likely to be healthier (i.e. last longer) if they are `touch-picked’. This involves gently tilting the fruit sideways or forward, gently pulling them down and harvesting them only if the fruit gives way easily. Research has shown that bruising will make fruit more susceptible to fungal rots. Therefore, fruits picked up from the ground may not last as long.

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Pests and diseases

A number of pests and diseases are present on feijoa but most are unlikely to cause serious damage or affect yields.

Australian Guava moth

A recent addition to the suite of feijoa pests is the Australian guava moth. This moth is present in Northland, north of and including the greater Whangarei area, where it causes commercial growers some concern. Guava moth lay their eggs (Figure 1) at the stem and style end and in cracks and crevices on fruit. The resulting larva (Figure 2) feed inside the fruits, causing premature fruit drop. Pupation occurs in loose soil and ground debris. Guava moth damage may affect the productivity of a garden feijoa tree and the gardener may notice a hole in the fruit with frass (insect droppings) at the entrance (Figure 3). Guava moth infestation is obvious once the fruit is opened as the flesh will be brown and rotting. Pheromone traps designed to catch adult guava moths (Figure 4) are available from your local FruitFed supplier.

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Figure 1: Guava moth eggs in a crack on a fruit surface. Figure 2: Guava moth larva.
   
Figure 3: Guava moth larva feeding on a macadamia with insect frass at the entrance hole. Figure 4: Adult guava moth

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References

Franklin, S.J. 1985: Feijoa varieties and culture commercial production. Aglink Horticultural Produce and Practice No. 104. Wellington, New Zealand,+ Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Media Services.
Harman, J.E.; Patterson, K.J. 1984: Kiwifruit, tamarillos, and feijoas maturity and storage effect on keeping and eating quality. Aglink Horticultural Produce and Practice No. 103. Wellington, New Zealand, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Media Services.
Stewart, A.M.; Carig, J.L. 1989: Factors affecting pollinator effectiveness in Feijoa sellowiana. New Zealand Journal of Crop and Horticultural Science 17: 145-154.
Thorp, G. 1988: Post-harvest handling of export feijoas and the use of ‘catching nets’. The Orchardist of New Zealand 61(2): 40.
Thorp, T.G. 19?? DSIR’s feijoa breeding programme goes to South America. The Orchardist of New Zealand 61(7): 213, 215.
Thorp, G. 1984: Feijoa quality is still the problem. Growing Today 2(3): 26-30.
Thorp, G.; Bieleski, R. 2002: Feijoas. Origins, cultivation and uses. Palmerston North, New Zealand, HortResearch and David Bateman. 87 p.
Thorp, T.G.; Klein J.D. 1987: Export feijoas: post-harvest handling and storage techniques to maintain optimum fruit quality. The Orchardist of New Zealand 60(5): 164-166.
The New Zealand Feijoa Growers’ Association, http://www.feijoa.org.nz

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