The research team at WTS comprises of Zelda van Rooyen, Therese Bruwer, Rob Blakey, Sibongile Mhlophe, and Lungi Mavuso. The team is responsible for both horticultural and pathological research, as well as the evaluation of new cultivars and selections. The team is led by Zelda (WTS Research Manager).
Zelda van Rooyen has a PhDAgric from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Her thesis is entitled "Factors affecting mesocarp discolouration severity in 'Pinkerton' avocados". Zelda is an expert in ultra-low storage of avocados, postharvest physiology and avocado rootstocks.
Therese Bruwer has a MScAgric from the University of Pretoria entitled "Manipulation of avocado (Persea americana Mill.) trees for out of season fruit production". Therese has extensive knowledge of mango and avocado cultivars, and tree manipulation with plant growth regulators.
Rob Blakey also has a PhDAgric from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. His thesis is entitled "Management of avocado postharvest physiology". He is experienced in postharvest physiology and near-infrared spectroscopy.
Sibongile Mhlophe is the newest member of the research team. She completer her Masters at the University of Johannesburg on extending the postharest life of speciality tomatoes.
Pathological research concerns the development of more effective, environmentally friendly orchard and pack-house disease management strategies and prctices aimed at producing healthy, disease free fruit. Effective organic management strategies to combat root rot in avocado are also being developed. Achievements include the discovery and development of the now internationally used injection of phosphorous acid directly into the tree to control Phytopthora root rot.
As support to the avocado nurseries of Westfalia Estate, weekly disease testing are done to ensure that trees produced are disease free and of a high standard. Technical support to the avocado production team also occurs on an ad-hoc basis and addresses short term problems with disease management and control as they arise.
Lungi Mavuso is the pathology researcher at WTS. She has an Honours degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and has just started her Masters degree at the University of Pretoria.
If you have any queries regarding research conducted at WTS, please contact Dr Zelda van Rooyen.