SAAGA – historical facts

“If you are unaware of your history, you do not know where you are going”

History compiled by Jurg Bezuidenhout


Harry Ludman established the first avocado orchards with West Indian race seedlings planted in the Durban region (Ludman, 1930).  Unfortunately due to the poor condition of the fruits, the venture attracted little commercial attention (Anonymous, 1965).


Dr. Merensky (Westfalia) and Lanion Hall (H.L. Hall & Sons) started planting orchards and had more success.

The greening disease caused havoc under citrus, which avocado trees replaced and from there the industry expanded (Ludman, 1930).




(Click on image to enlarge)      The photo of this 15 ton insulated rail truck dates back to the 1930s. These trucks were used to dispatch avocados from Johannesburg to Cape Town.


November 27 РThe first meeting between avocado growers was held at Westfalia Estates.  This meeting was chaired by Prof. Ballie Kotzé.  The meeting led to the formation of an Avocado Growers Export Coordinating Committee with Mr. A J Cresswell of Koolkat (Pty) Ltd, an export agent, as convener.


January – The Avocado Growers Export Coordinating Committee name changed to Transvaal Avocado Growers’ Association.

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August 9 – The Transvaal Avocado Growers’ Association became known as the¬† South African Avocado Growers’ Association.


The first research committee were established and consisted of Jan Toerien, Ronnie Lunt, Clive Mitchell and Willie Pretorius with Prof. Kotzé as chairman until he retired in 1994.


The set of oil content norms for avocado fruit (Holzapfel & Kuschke, 1977).


Joe Dravas successfully controlled Phytophthora with Metalaxyl within one year (Darvas, Kotzé & Toerien, 1979).

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Nino Burelli becomes the first employed SAAGA field officer.

Blackie Swart constructed an instrument whereby fruit firmness could be quantified (Swart, 1981).

Eileen Kuschke (UP) to monitor fruit condition on the Paris market at Rugis (Bezuidenhout & Kuschke, 1981).

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Successful control of Cercospora Spot with two copper sprays (Davas, 1982).


Anthracnose control by the use of Prochloraz (Rowell, 1983).

The Avocado Nurserymen’s Association established to manage the avocado plant improvement scheme and monitor Phytophthora¬†in nurseries

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Injections of avocado trees with Fosetyl-Al for the control of Phytophthora (Darvas, 1984).


Sunblotch indexing become routine from 1985.

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Jan Toerien made a huge cost saving between 1984 to 1986 by modifying the pallet and carton dimensions.


SAAGA host the first World Avocado Congress held in South Africa

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Establishment of a temperature-time management protocol for avocado exports (Voster, Toerien & Bezuidenhout, 1990).

The tree Phenological model developed (Whiley & Wolstenholm, 1990).


In Horticulture, high density planting proved successful (Köhne & Kremer-Köhne, 1991).


Cooperation between PPECB, exporters and SAAGA in avocado exports (Bezuidenhout, & Eksteen, 1994).

New cultivars and rootstocks (Conradie, Smith, Köhne & Kremer-Köhne, 1994).

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Fruit size manipulation proved successful (Kremer-Köhne, 1996).


Stefan Köhne introduced the densimeter from Europe to South Africans (Köhne, Kremer-Köhne & Gay, 1998).

Research in monitoring insect pests in orchards started (Grové, De Beer, Dryer & Steyn, 1998).


Mineral norms for leaves identified (Snijder & Stassen, 2000).

Protocol for phytosanitary pests for export of avocado introduced (Tate & Hattingh, 2000).

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Introducing the use of controlled atmostphere and later 1 MCP (Lemmer, Kruger, Malumane & Nxundu, 2002).


Research in controlling of insect pests started (Bruwer, 2003).


Ultra-low temperature for avocado exports introduced (Van Rooyen & Bezuidenhout, 2010).

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(1920) Anonymous, 1965. The Avocado in South Africa. California Avocado Society Yearbook, 49: 73-78.

(1930) Ludman JW, 1930. Alkmaar Citrus South African Farms Ltd. California Avocado Society Yearbook, 189-190.

(1977) Holzapfel WH & Kuschke En, 1977. Oliebepalings as aanduiding van die rypheid van Avokado’s, SAAGA Yearbook, 29-34.

(1979) Darvas JM, Kotzé JM & Toerien JC, 1979.  Chemical control of Phytophthora root rot on replanted avocado trees.  The Citrus and Subtropical Fruit Journal 533: 4-16

(1981) Swarts DH, 1981. Fermometerondersoeke by Avokado’s, SAAGA Yearbook, 42-46.

(1981) Bezuidenhout JJ & Kuschke E, 1981. Die avokado-ondersoek by Rungis, Frankryk gedurende 1981, SAAGA Yearbook, 18-24.

(1982) Darvas, JM, 1982. Pre-harvest Chemical Control of the Post-harvest diseases of Fuerte Avocados, SAAGA Yearbook, 56-57.

(1983) Rowell AWG, 1983. Post-harvest disease control in avocados using Prochloraz, SAAGA Yearbook, 19.

(1984) Darvas JM, 1984. Zinc Supplemented to Avocado Trees in Conjunction with Root Rot Control Injections, SAAGA Yearbook, 79.

(1990) Vorster LL, Toerien JC & Bezuidenhout JJ, 1990. Temperature Management of avocados ‚Äď an integrated approach, SAAGA Yearbook, 43-46.

(1990) Whiley AW & Wolstenholm BN, 1990. Carbohydrate management in avocado trees for increased production, SAAGA Yearbook, 25-27.

(1991) K√∂hne JS & Kremer-K√∂hne S, 1991. Avocado high density planting ‚Äď a progress report, SAAGA Yearbook, 42-43.

(1994) Bezuidenhout JJ & Eksteen GJ, 1994. Die verband tussen Opbergingstemperatuur-en Tyd op die Gehalte van Avokado’s Oorsee, SAAGA Yearbook, 17.

(1994) Conradie W, Smith DG, Köhne JS & Kremer-Köhne S, 1994. Evaluation of New Avocado Scion and Rootstock Cultivars, SAAGA Yearbook, 70-71.

(1996) Kremer-Köhne S & Köhne JS, 1996. Possible Means to Increase Hass Avocado Fruit Size, SAAGA Yearbook, 92.

(1998) Köhne JS, Kremer-Köhne S & Gay SH, 1998. Non-Destructive Avocado Fruit Firmness Measurement, SAAGA Yearbook, 19-21.

(1998) Grové T, De Beer MS, Dreyer S & Steyn WP, 1998. Monitoring Fruit Flies in Avocado Orchards, SAAGA Yearbook, 80-82.

(2000) Snijder B & Stassen PJC, 2000. Macro nutrient accumulation and requirements of Hass avocaco tree, SAAGA Yearbook, 56-62.

(2000) Tate B & Hattingh V, 2000. Preliminary investigation into the use of controlled atmosphere (CA) to control false codling moth (FCM) in Hass avocados with a view to gaining market
access to the USA, SAAGA Yearbook, 110-112.

(2002) Lemmer D, Kruger FJ, Malumane TR & Nxundu KY, 2002. 1-Methyl Cyclopropene (1-MCP): An Alternative for Controlled Atmosphere Storage of South African Export Avocados,
SAAGA Yearbook, 28-39.

(2003) Bruwer, IJ, 2003. Eko-vriendelike Insekdoders vir die Beheer van Suigbesies in Avokadoboorde, SAAGA Yearbook, 26-32.

(2010) Van Rooyen Z & Bezuidenhout JJ, 2010. Semi-commercial trials to determine the risk of shipping South African ‚ÄėHass‚Äô at 1¬įC, SAAGA Yearbook, 27-31.

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