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Wally Richards – Fabulous Feijoas

As a fruiting plant the Feijoa has to be at the top of my “favourites” list.

It requires minimal attention to produce good quantities of fruit every year; is free of most pests and diseases; and requires littlespraying.  Supply ample food and water and it will perform.

There are a number of types of Feijoa and some will crop better than others.The original is Feijoa Sellowiana which grows about 3m to 4m tall with a similar spread. These make excellent shelter, screens or hedges and will produce a crop of small fruit. They don’t mind been trimmed and as a hedge they are a great sight when in flower.  However, they are not much chop other than for using to make jams or chutneys.

If you love to eat fresh feijoas, the more modern cultivars are the ones to go for.

The fruit when ripe or near ripe fall from the tree and are best collected from the ground rather than picked.  The downside is the fruit once ripe will not hold for long and will soon decay.

Chilling will extend the holding time and you need a lot of fridge space for storing most crops.
One advantage is that the fruit does not ripen all at once so you can have a constant supply of fruit over several weeks.

Tharfield Nursery, which produces numerous fruiting plants under the name of Incredible Edibles, says:

“Feijoas are very hardy and versatile fruit trees which require a minimum of care once established.  They are a medium vigorous tree, moderately compact and easy to manage. Plants are trained up on a single stem to 40 or 50cm in the nursery for ease of harvest once the tree matures.

They flower in time for Christmas and fruit April – May onwards depending on variety and climate. Flowers have fleshy petals that attract birds for pollination but the petals from well watered trees are fleshy enough to pick and add to salads or desserts. They have a spicy sweet flavour.

Feijoas will grow on most soils providing good drainage is present. Plants have drought tolerance characteristics but require moisture during fruiting season.

The feijoa is a heavy feeder. Feed with high nitrogen NPK fertiliser in late winter and well rotted animal manure in autumn.  200g of fertiliser per year of tree up to 10 years and 2kg per tree annually thereafter.

When training young plants it is important to build a good framework quickly and this will encourage the plant to start fruiting sooner. Some varieties branch naturally while others tend to be more leggy in their habit and need to be trimmed lightly in mid-summer. Flowers form from new growth at the tips of last year’s growth, so the bushier the plant the sooner it will fruit. Bushiness has to be balanced with air and light penetration to help with pollination and disease prevention.

Older established trees are better with a few bigger branches removed each year and this will encourage new canopy growth and flowering within the tree. Hardy to -10°C.

Feijoas will grow in almost all soils, however ideal conditions are well drained and a pH 6-6.5 (slightly acid). Alkaline soil causes yellowing and poor shoot growth. Heavier soils produce better quality fruit.  Sandy soils cause excess vegetative growth. They will tolerate moderate salt spray.

Feijoas will be damaged under -5°C  Early autumn frost can damage late fruiting varieties.
Wind: Shelter will protect fruit from ‘scarring’ and limb rub on the fruit. Pollination: By Blackbirds and Mynas. Spacing: 3-3.5 to 4.5-5m apart. At this spacing trees will meet in the row after five years.  This will give 500-600 trees per hectare or 200-263 per acre. Plant each tree with 150grams of blood and bone.  Tree Growth: Root growth starts in spring when the soil temperature is 8-10°C (September) until autumn when the temperature drops below.”

Varieties:

  • Feijoa Unique (my favourite): medium sized fruit with smooth skin.  Juicy flavour. Handles well. Vigorous grower.  Self-fertile. Early season.
  • Feijoa Apollo: large fruit, moderately rough skin.
  • Ellipsoid to Obovoid:  mild aromatic and sweet flavour. Smooth texture flesh and very juicy. Medium to high pulp content. Partially self-fertile.  Upright in growth, vigorous habit. Large fruit, sometimes exceeding export grades. Mid-season (March – April)
  • Feijoa Opal Star: fruit is medium to large. Oblong to obovoid. Smooth dark green skin. Smooth juicy fruit. Pulp content medium to low. Mild flavour. Upright spreading growth while young developing into a strong compact tree. Good fruit set. Late fruiting season (April  May)
  • Feijoa Gemin: small to medium sized fruit, obovoid. Smooth dark green skin. Slightly gritty, soft and juicy flesh. Medium pulp content. Strong flavour. Upright spreading habit. High fruit set.
  • Early fruiting (Feb March).
  • Feijoa Pounamu: medium sized fruit, obovoid in shape. Smooth dark green skin. Flesh is smooth, juicy and pleasant flavour. Pulp content medium. Mild flavour. Upright spreading habit moderately vigorous tree. High fruit set. Early fruiting season (Feb-March)
  • Feijoa Kakapo: medium sized fruit, obovoid in shape. Rough green skin. Smooth juicy flesh full of flavour. Medium pulp content. Medium vigorous good open tree. Moderate fruit set. Mid-season fruiting (March-April)
  • Feijoa Wiki Tu: very Large fruit. Rough skin Medium pulp content. Sometimes has hollow locules within the fruit. This maybe due to poor pollination or water management.  Good flavour Smaller growing feijoa. Late season.
  • Feijoa K51:  little known to date on this tree Excellent flavour. Strong grower with medium to large size fruit. Early season .

There is a Feijoa Growers website www.feijoa.org.nz which has an excellent recipe booklet you can purchase.

I grow Feijoa Unique in a 100 litre drum and it performs well as long as given ample animal manure, water plus Fruit and Flower Power. A trimming in summer of the foliage will help bush up the plant and it can become an great looking container plant that is very fruitful.

 

9 comments on “Wally Richards – Fabulous Feijoas

  1. Linda Slade on said:

    I like to trim my fejoa into a square shape like a formal hedge while making it very sustainable by using the gray water from the washing machine, thrown under the tree every time i wash. The fruit are ridiculusly huge.

  2. Hey Linda thanks for your advice – nothing better than big plump Feijoa’s crumble and chutney!

  3. i have a large feijoa tree 4 meters and want to chop it back to 2 meters which will leave very little foliage on the tree i need to know if it will recover eny advice will be greatly appreciated

  4. Hi Cory, If you cut it back too far it will not recover. Generally you can reduce by a quarter. If you are prepared to wait you can do it in several stages over two seasons. Take the some bigger larger branches out with deep cuts into the tree but make sure you leave enough new foliage and branches so that it still looks like a tree. Be conscious that the larger branches are the fruiting branches. This will let the light in and grow new lower branches (less fruit in the short term). You need to create an open plant so that birds and insects can get in and pollinate. Pruning after fruiting (now) is the best time. Take your time and think about each branch you cut. Hope that makes sense. I am guessing it is more ornamental than a fruiting tree but let me know if this is not the case. Give it a good feed of either compost or recommended fertilizer from your garden center.

    Regards

    Tim Durrant

  5. Hi, I’ve noticed that something has been eating my feijoa tree leaves. Should this be something of a concern?

  6. Vkapelevich on said:

    Hi Tina,
    I have a similar problem.
    Have you managed to find a solution?
    Thanks,
    -Vit

  7. landscapedesignnz on said:

    Hi Vit, 

    Try spraying with Pyrethrum making sure you get both sides of the leaves 

  8. Hi Ive got a huge, dense tree that hasn’t produced fruit since I moved in 5 years ago., will follow the advice you gave to Cory. Do I need to water it more & give it some fertilzer? What do you recommend & how much? It’s Eaarly Feb suppose I want get any friut this seasob?Thanks

  9. Raewyn on said:

    hi, wondered if you can help, my last seasons fruit were great size but very bitter. could i have given to much food. i gave them citus food about a handful twice last year.?

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