The Q&A Archives: Harvesting Avocados

Question: When do you pick th avocados from the tree? What color should they be and should they be soft or hard? Also What time of year should they be picked?

Answer: There are three distinct horticultural races of avocado -- West Indian, Guatemalan and Mexican -- plus hybrids between them. West Indian types are the least cold tolerant and somewhat watery in flavor, but they have the greatest tolerance to salinity and some diseases.

The Mexican race is the most cold tolerant but the least salt tolerant. Its fruit ripens in the summer and is usually of good flavor. The fruit is rarely larger than 8 to 12 ounces, is green to purple or black, and has very thin skin. Because the skin is so thin, the fruit are very susceptible to disease. The crushed leaves of the Mexican race of avocados have a distinct odor of anise (licorice), which is lacking in the other races.

Most other hybrids mature in September or October. Storage on-tree is common, and most will store on-tree into January because of cooler temperatures. Avocado fruits do not ripen on the tree--they must be harvested and held for several days.

So, depending upon the type of avocado you're growing, you may be harvesting anytime from mid-summer through mid-winter. Hope this answers your questions!

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