Avocado growers attended a workshop recently to discuss ways to prevent damage done to the orchards by pests over the picking season. The workshop, organised by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, was held in Manjimup and showed farmers ways to mitigate the harm done to avocados by the six spotted mite pest. The workshop is part of a three-year research project by DPIRD, which will conclude at the end of next year, looking into six spotted mites. Six spotted mites feed on the foliage of the orchard, which can cause the tree to shed excessive numbers of leaves and expose the fruit to the sun, which can ruin the quality and number of avocados. Department research scientist Alison Mathews said the data collected had already produced some useful insights that would help avocado farmers prevent a loss of product through pest damage. “We know they are most active in spring, when defoliation is most likely to occur, making it a critical time for growers to monitor for mites,” she said. Ms Matthews said in the last year of the project, it would be important for farmers who were considering monitoring mites for research to keep careful note of how different avocado plants on their properties were affected. “Mites are very small and this makes the way you monitor them very important,” she said. “It’s critical to manage different blocks within an orchard as separate units, if possible.” A statement from DPIRD said when the research project ended next year, a management package for six spotted mite in avocados would be formulated to help avocado growers. Avocado production is now Western Australia’s biggest and fastest growing fruit industry, with 33,239 tonnes produced in 2019-20, worth $207 million, from orchards in Pemberton, Manjimup, Busselton, Wanneroo and Gingin.