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Topics - agroventuresperu

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Tropical Fruit Discussion / Just a mini Rant about Youtube
« on: February 17, 2024, 08:42:04 PM »
I look at all these video titles and they pretty much say the same thing: "This was the worst soil on the planet, and then overnight with my super magical green thumb, everything changed!

That pretty much sums it up. Add in a dash of flowery language...voila!

I haven't seen videos where they actually show detailed soil analysis to prove just how "bad" their soil was at the start. Nor is the viewer graced with the results of a third party audit to detail the inputs added or economics of the entire operation. I mean I could make a terrible soil great in a day, just give me a back hoe, rototiller and a few side-dump loads of lime and compost.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

And a comment I read in its comment section that pretty much sums up my thoughts:
"Title is a little deceiving, that's not "desert sand", that area of Baja is quite fertile and local farmers have been growing vegetables there for decades. This isn't new at all, why do foreign people like to try to appropriate everything? Give due credit to the local guys who have been doing this for decades and pioneered these techniques."

I'm on this soapbox, because I know everyone's trying so hard to motivate others by making it look easy - like if you just take a PDC and listen to hippies talk about fairies then you can take a box of seeds and some builders clay and scatter seeds in the middle of the Sahara Desert, forests will pop out of nowhere, and the wildebeast will once again roam the ancient plains of the extinct Saharan prairie browsing tree Aloes to help ward off skin cancer. Nonetheless, everything is so much more nuanced than presented and there are situations where the same approach will be a disaster in someone else's neck of the woods.

My favorite ones are the ones where they plant thousands of trees and then "walk away" and come back a few years later, supposedly for the first time, with all sorts of camera gear, and ooh and ahh about how neat the new forest is, and brag about how only a few of the tree saplings have died. Congratulations, you have good soil. Go try that in most parts of the world on severely degraded, marginal, non-ag land and you might as well throw away money.

Looking across the landscape, there's Mangos, Avocados, Cashews, Spondias purpurea, Ice Cream Beans, Majambo, Surinam Cherry, Camu Camu... and I'm sure there are many others.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Sap Analysis?
« on: February 14, 2024, 06:17:37 PM »
I've been a regular listener to the Regenerative Agriculture Podcast by John Kempf. He definitely favors sap analysis over foliar testing, which I understand. I personally don't have such a service available near here, so I had to do a foliar analysis instead. Either way, I don't think I'm going to be doing either test on a regular basis. I doubt many on this forum would either. It seems more geared towards commercial growers that need to keep things on point to make realtime adjustments. It's a pretty useful tool, but you probably need to have a commercial operation to justify the cost of that level of precision.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Requesting Germination Info for Surinam Cherry
« on: February 13, 2024, 05:19:29 PM »
A couple years ago, I went to the local nursery and saw they had a plant in the edibles section that they were calling cereza, which is the generic spanish name for cherry. I asked for a proper scientific name, and of course no one at the nursery knew. They just reiterated "cereza". ::)
So, I decided to get one and see for myself, now that it has fruited it turns out it's a Surinam Cherry (Eugenia uniflora), and the fruits are actually pretty decent. We decided we want to grow more, so we planted 2 seeds per spot in four different spots near the house. That was over a month ago, and I was expecting to see some seedlings by now.

The oldest ones were only sitting around the house for about a week. The freshest were planted the same day we ate the fruit. How long do they typically take to germinate? We used some wood shavings from spent animal bedding, so we have some tomatoes, pink bananas and papayas that have sprouted from the spots, but I haven't noticed anything that looks like a Surinam Cherry seedling.

What are your recommendations? I'm interested in touring awe-inspiring edible fruit gardens and extremely beautiful botanical gardens with lots of palm trees and vibrant tropical flowers, etc.

Also planning a visit to ECHO, as I've always heard good things about their demonstration gardens to get ideas for rural development work.

Also, what else is fun to do in Florida? Thinking about visiting Key West, as I've never been. Also want to swim with the manatees north of Tampa area.

I probably won't: Do the beaches of Miama, everglades, disney...been there done that.

Tropical Fruit Buy, Sell & Trade / BUYER BEWARE for Indonesian Seed Orders!
« on: December 27, 2023, 06:38:50 PM »
Just thought I'd give you all a heads up, as I didn't expect for this forum to lead to such a level of disrespect for a customer.

I understand it's common for them to be intercepted at the destination country, but do you folks ever have problems getting shipments out of the origin country?

Tropical Fruit Online Library / What's The Deal with Syntropic Agroforestry?
« on: September 29, 2023, 07:53:04 PM »
At first glance, it sounds like one of those "hey I've got the magic beans to make your landscape extremely productive even if Aluminum saturation is 90% and every nutrient is deficient in your soil" approaches.

The guy who coined the approach, Ernst Gotsch, seems to be a pretty intelligent person, although I get sleepy watching his presentations, and have to muck through his diatribes about the usual environmentalist gripes in order to glean a few nuggets of gold. What's missing is the hard data. Or perhaps it's not presented well and I haven't found it yet with my less-than-extensive internet searches. Most everything seems anecdotal, although it looks like a good approach to regenerative agriculture as far as I can tell.

Okay he started with a desertified piece of land with "soil pH from 3.7 to 4.5" in northeastern Brazil. What was the aluminum saturation? What was the CEC? Which species did he use in the areas that were pH 3.7? Did anyone conduct a geological assay of the soil using Inductively Coupled Plasma - Optical Emission Spectrometry? What elements were deficient?? Were any of these elements imported to the landscape in the form of amendments, fertilizers, manures, mulches, etc? Was any liming ever done during the reforestation process? What was the average annual precipitation of the area?

Hard to believe that a property that was a total desert with soil so poor that farmers "couldn't even produce a pineapple", was able to be converted into a thriving rainforest ecosystem without any irrigation nor inputs besides seeds and hard work - but that appears to be the insinuation. I guess if it took the guy thirty years to get to that point, it makes more sense. But I imagine the better part of the first decade saw little to no production, which wouldn't be practical for most people lacking a swiss bank account.

How does pruning tall trees effectively mine subsoil of elements? I can understand that, but what if those elements aren't there in the first place? Surely healthy populations of microorganisms can access unavailable nutrients, but I don't believe they have the ability to add elements that aren't in the soil profile or parent materials in the first place. If I'm wrong, someone please tell me there's a microorganism capable of the alchemy necessary to start adding gold to my soil. Now that would solve some of my problems. I have a lot of questions about this approach, which sounds like it's being marketed as a silver bullet solution.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / The Best Cinnamon Species
« on: September 17, 2023, 02:11:16 PM »
Which is it? Can't remember. Apparently one is a cut above the rest, whereas the others aren't even considered "true" cinnamon..Some of the inferior species I've heard are actually somewhat toxic.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Andean Walnut
« on: September 15, 2023, 07:56:23 PM »
Hi forum,

I just received some seeds this week of Juglans neotropica. I've never propagated this species or any other species of Walnut before. Does anyone here have experience with this species?

I was wondering about the best way to pre-treat the seeds. I was thinking about using a bench grinder to slowly sand away the vast majority of the endocarp all over before revealing the seed coat in one or two spots, and then soaking in water for three days with water changes. The bench grinder idea is my own. The three day water soak idea is from a forestry publication in Spanish from Peru. I was thinking the three day soak might be too long if I'm doing the sanding with a bench grinder. The other doubt is if I sand unevenly, would that cause problems with germination since the seed might swell inside but then be subjected to differing gradients of pressure along the woody endocarp?

There are only a few spots on our land where Avocados have done OK. We started direct-planting more from seed, which has been more successful, but I think it will always be an uphill battle for the most part to have good avocado production here.

Our location is in Amazonia, but with a distinct dry season between June and October. Rainfall is pretty low this time of year. We only received 1.8 inches this year in July. August seems like it might turn out to be even less than that. These are typically the two driest months of the year. The soil is naturally acidic here for the most part, and of course it was leached over multiple decades following deforestation, which made it more acidic, so recommendations should be for a fruit that grows well in acidic conditions. Some parts of the property have pretty bad aluminum saturation, such as the spot from the soil analysis I'm going to share. Would be good for the recommended species to be aluminum resistant. I took the soil sample from the least productive part of the property. Some areas are night and day by comparison, but still I've seen Avocado only thrive in a few key spots, and even those will probably require continued addition of lime in the future.

Someone suggested Macadamias might be good for acidic soil. Well we tried about one hundred trees and only one has performed decently. Most died.

Results from our Avocado foliar analysis are pending.

I'd like to grow something equivalent to Avocado, but I know there is no substitute. Something fatty and delicious would be nice. Maybe tropical Walnut (Juglans neotropica) or Dipteryx alata. Preferably something with a big seed that I can direct sow, which will have enough energy to get the shoot taller than our Brachiaria grasses within the first six months of growth. How about Bertholettia excelsa? Would you recommend African Oil Palm? Surprisingly seeds of many species are hard to find in Peru, as it's not like in the US where you just go online. You really have to know someone in an area where there are trees, and the person has to be trustworthy enough to provide you with fresh stock. Out of all the species I mentioned, I think the African Oil Palm seeds would be the easiest to acquire. We are at about 900m elevation, which gets a little cooler than the low jungle, but I still find it plenty hot. In the dry season most days are sunny and top out at 90 degrees. I haven't gotten solid data on annual rainfall ( just installed a rain gauge last month) for our location. I would say somewhere between 2000-3000mm avg. annual rainfall based on some of the data I've seen for other towns nearby in drier microclimates.

We're three years into this. So most areas already have significant canopy cover with a couple different Inga spp., Schizolobium, and the local Erythrina spp. Therefore, I think some "higher order" trees might perform well being sown at this stage.

The topsoil in our sample surprised me a bit. I wasn't expecting to see the pH that high and the organic matter at 2.58% is higher than I expected. That result is even after excluding the top two inches, because we've been running chickens and other poultry through the area over the past few months, and I didn't want their manure to affect the results too much. The subsoil is still about as awful as when we started three years ago though.

Just a warning though: This is a pretty extreme example. It is the area on the property where we've seen the least amount of growth from all tree species we planted 3 years ago. Some died, and most just sat there stunted. They have been unable to compete satisfactorily with the Brachiaria, whereas in other areas of the property we have seen satisfactory tree growth amongst Brachiaria.

Test Results:

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Question for Avocado Experts
« on: May 20, 2023, 05:30:52 PM »
Anyone know what causes tip dieback? One relatively healthy-looking specimen got about two meters tall, then the entire trunk died back almost to the ground and now there are three suckers instead of the main trunk. I know a few of the trees were grafted and we had issues with the graft surviving, but at this point most are seedling/rootstock trees, and the issue is still pretty common.

Minor tip dieback is more common. Just got done snipping many small, dead tips off a number of trees.

I know tip dieback is a symptom of calcium deficiency. We only applied dolomite once, and the soils are naturally acidic here, so maybe we just need to work on getting pH to stabilize at a higher level and keeping it there with enough woody organic matter. Can't say for sure if the tip dieback on these avos is necessarily a Ca deficiency as we don't do sap analysis, and haven't soil tested since prior to planting.

Most of the trees I'm talking about are located on steep slopes, so even though we get excessive rain during the rainy season, the drainage is good.

Our best avocado tree is located about 5m downslope from our banana greywater circle on a steep slope. It gets the greywater seepage and overflow constantly. The tree is massive, probably about 4m tall at three years old, and it just started flowering for the first time. There are hundreds of blooms. Never seen any tip dieback on that specimen. The vigor is like nothing I've ever seen.
The waterflow through the soil in that spot is near constant, so it has cast doubt on the old advice relating to rootrot and constantly wet soils.

This was off the record, so I'm not sure I should be reporting it, but I remember about eight years ago talking with one of the senior researchers at the USDA lab near Ft. Pierce. I think his name was Randall Neidz. He was talking about how that disease was pretty much decimating the entire crop of oranges in Florida. He showed me some charts indicating the steady decline, and said the outlook was bleak. Basically he predicted an entire collapse of the Florida citrus industry. He said even if they were able to fast-track some sort of GMO citrus, which would still take a minimum of two years, the processing plants were built with a certain volume in mind, and the lack of volume during that interim period would supposedly cause everything to go bust.

Anyway, don't quote me on that. I'm just paraphrasing the guy.

So, what ever happened with that situation?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / IPM - Integrated Pest Management in the Tropics
« on: September 27, 2022, 08:59:01 PM »
Hey can anyone please recommend some good host plants for beneficial insects? I need something that is cheap and easy to find in Peru that I can broadcast seed all over the place to encourage beneficials like parasitic wasps. I don't know much about IPM other than most plants in the Apiaceae family have the flowers that such wasps use as their nectar source. Not sure what other plants are beneficial. I'm sure IPM in the tropics is a lot more complex than in temperate areas simply due to the shear biodiversity of tropical equatorial climates.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Leaf Cutter Ants - How Do You Deal with Them?
« on: September 17, 2022, 03:52:35 PM »
Here we

use chlorpyrifos in a powdered form, which doesn't work very well. You powder their entrances and lines, and hope for the best. I even get on hands and knees and blow some of the powder down the entrance. Inevitably in a week or so, they will be back, rinse and repeat for weeks on end.
A biological agent would work better.

Edit: Here's a nice article from Brazil where scientists conducted an experiment with some sort of processed orange pulp as a carrier bait into which they infused sulfluramid at 0.3% concentration. Apparently the ants incorporated more of the sulfluramid pellets into their nest than even the control group (the processed orange pulp without any insecticide). That might have just been a coincidence, but the mechanism of action sounds very convincing to me.
The sulfluramid is very slow acting, so the worker ants don't perceive the compound. The ants feed this bait to their fungus and only after the bait has been incorporated into the fungus, does the sulfluramid start to affect the worker ants. The workers are not able to associate the bait as being the source of toxicity as they are able to do with more acute toxins from their environment. The article states that after three or four days the ants stop harvesting plant material from the landscape, and all individuals die 16-22 days following the treatment.

Sounds promising to me. Now I just have to see if I can find a product with this chemical composition.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Tropical Sources of ALA (Omega-3)
« on: September 03, 2022, 09:37:10 PM »
What are some good tropical plant sources of omega 3 fatty acids?
I assume Juglans neotropica, because it likely has the same nutritional profile as the temperate walnut species. I really don't know what else other than perhaps some annuals like tropical varieties of pumpkins.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Blueberries for the True Tropics
« on: September 01, 2022, 04:39:18 PM »
I was looking at some plant lists of what can grow in acidic soil, and blueberry popped out at me, because the chart said its low end begins at 4.0pH, which is pretty darn acidic.

In Peru, they actually cultivate blueberries in the coastal region. They even find their way to the local markets here in Rioja. I really don't know much about the technicalities of how they're doing it. Yet, I assume that whatever cultivars they're using would probably be successful here in the jungle. We're about 5-6 degrees from the equator and blessed with acidic soil. Before we planted our property, we sent a few soil samples from various spots to the local lab. The lowest reading we got back was 4.76 and the highest 5.06

Edit: Just started reading a Peruvian thesis. Apparently the cultivar, "Biloxi" accounts for 90% of the commercial production in Peru.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / A Mini Jack Fruit?
« on: August 22, 2022, 05:54:23 PM »
What's going on here? This tree was sold to us labelled as "Yaca," which I assumed is the Spanish word for Jackfruit. This tree is probably only 3 years old, and is fruiting for the first time. It is the only one of our "yacas" that I've noticed already has fruit. I know Jack fruit to be large, 15lb melon-size fruits, so what is going on with this tree? I'm guessing it needed to be cross-pollinated with another tree or something along those lines. There are plenty of small fruits on the tree. Hopefully I can expect some better fruit in the future. I tasted the one in my hand, and it was basically inedible. I don't think it's an issue of the fruit still growing, because a couple of them have already ripened (turned brownish and fallen).

Tropical Fruit Buy, Sell & Trade / GoFundMe Honduras
« on: August 17, 2022, 08:08:54 PM »
I came across this guy's youtube channel, and thought I should share the link to his gofundme on here, because his project sounds relevant to this forum. I don't know the guy, and I won't donate, because we are still investing a lot into our own place with no sign of profitability on the horizon anytime soon. But maybe others are interested. As you may know, many tropical ecosystems are being degraded at an alarming rate. This is one project that should serve as a good example for the region to heal the land:

Here's a nice little farm near where I live, where someone is cultivating yellow dragon fruit on a support of the species of Erythrina normally used here as a living fence, and to provide fodder for livestock.

Also I went ahead and uploaded a video from a couple years ago showing dragon fruit growing on African oil palm.

Just noticed this small understory tree fruiting today in our primary forest section of the property. Something about the way it looked I just had to try it. It tastes pretty good somewhat reminiscent of a caimito, but the flesh is insubstantial. If no one knows just from the fruit pictures, I'll see if I can get a photo of the leaves too.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Why Are So Many Seed Vendors So Dishonest?
« on: August 07, 2022, 02:05:33 PM »
Let me know if you want me to name names.

I recently bought "seeds" of Mitragyna speciosa from a couple different vendors. The first sent absolutely empty pods. At least they refunded me when I complained. The second seller sent seeds that just looked underdeveloped. Sure enough 0% germination.

Lots of palm seeds over the years were totally worthless. Even rotten seeds from large, well-known vendors.

Tons of fruit seeds from other big name sellers, with horrible results. Apparently vendors don't commit to rotating old stock with new stock, and prefer to just off-load completely old dead seeds to unsuspecting buyers. I've had so many bad experiences over the years, that I'm not sure I'll ever buy seeds again from any big seed websites. Things like vegetable crops are usually pretty reliable, but forget about palms, fruit trees, and other rare plants. It seems none of the vendors even check their viability.

One thing I've been keeping an eye out for now for a few years is Musa ingens, the giant banana species. A quick internet search yields a few results, but the prices are so ridiculous (like 3 seeds for $14) and I just assume it's from some batch being resold over and over again from seeds that could very well be a decade old...

I mean you can always ask a seller how old the seeds are, but what do you think they're going to say, "Oh yeah those have been laying at the bottom of my sock drawer for the better part of two decades. I don't even remember who I bought them from or when they were collected."

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Is This Papaya Flower Hermaphrodite?
« on: August 07, 2022, 12:07:23 PM »
I peeled away the upper petals for the photo:

Here's some context from another thread I responded to:
Proteoid roots in the macadamia are characteristic of most species of the Proteaceae.  These are highly efficient roots evolved to survive in very poor soils.  The addition of fertilizer can overwhelm the plant and simply be toxic.  Of my 40 or so trees of different varieties, they rarely see any fertilizer.  Their soil is just old beach sand (with a slight acidic flavor)

In our context, I had originally assumed aluminum toxicity due to the low pH of our soil here, hence the addition of dolomite. We have some areas that are clay, fertile and less problematic with lots of humus, while some other areas are pretty soggy/slightly swampy yet sandy at the same time. We started out with just a small amount of compost mixed with the native soil when we originally planted them. We planted roughly 100 from seed-grown plants started in a nursery. They were planted all over the property in a variety of different locations and soil conditions. No pattern emerged to suggest why some might have survived whereas others did not. They were all pretty healthy in the nursery before planting. When we transplanted to the field we achieved the following results: Most died, lots have shown extremely slow growth, and only a couple have shown moderately slow growth. I don't think our problem here was overly fertile conditions, as our original soil analyses before planting indicated pretty typical nutrient deficiencies that one might expect of deforested jungle turned to cattle pasture for 1 or 2 decades.

If Macadamia grow well in coastal central California on sandy soil, I'm guessing they might require better drainage than avocado. We had a lot of Avocados die on our property, but we also have plenty that have shown excellent growth at different places on the property. I'm not familiar with Macadamia's native growing conditions in Australia.

Doing another round of Maintenance on our property, last week, I came across three Macadamia trees that we planted over two years ago that are still alive. One is extremely small, the other two are also pretty small but look healthy. I'm not sure why, but the Macadamias here have only grown a few inches per year at best. Some may have only grown a few millimeters. I'm not sure what they need. The above comment makes me wary to add any more fertilizers of amendments.

Was thinking about just mulching them with sawdust, but I'm worried if I just look at them wrong they might decide to stop being green. Out of the seedlings that we planted originally, probably at least 90% have died. I still have about another 5 or 6 hectares of plantation to look through to see if there are any more survivors out there.

It's not something that's available as a nursery plant in this country, so they're basically irreplaceable. Would be a shame not to at least save a couple of them.

I'm curious to know what are some good ways to propagate Walnut from seed. I found a woman locally that gave us a couple seeds (including shell) of Juglans neotropica, the Andean Walnut. She might be able to get us more, and I would really like to have this tree growing on our property. I've read that it should do OK here, even though it would prefer a little cooler temperatures.

I've read some literature suggesting to remove the shell before sowing in the nursery. I really don't want to risk removing the shell, and rotting the kernel. Perhaps an alternative would be to sand the shell with sand paper just to file away a couple millimeters.

Another concern about growing in the nursery is the root system. Do you think the roots would get knoted and/or pot-bound? Does it have a huge taproot? Would it be better to just direct sow in the final location out in the field, by burying it under a small mound of compost and sawdust?

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