Cooperative Extension Service
CTAHR Fact Sheet
no. 4*January 1997
*Replaces HITAHR Commodity Fact Sheet AVO-3(A).
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Charles W. Laughlin,Director and Dean, Cooperative Extension Service, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822. AnEqual Opportunity / Affirmative Action Institution providing programs and services to the people of Hawaii without regard to race, sex, age, religion, color, nationalorigin, ancestry, disability, marital status, arrest and court record, sexual orientation, or veteran status.
Family: LauraceaeScientific name:
Mill.Origin: American tropics
Avocado is a much-branched evergreen tree 40–80 fttall with elliptic leaves 3–10 inches long. Its flowers aresmall, greenish, and perfect (having both male and femaleparts). The fruits are round, pear shaped (pyriform), oroblong, with green, yellow, reddish purple, purple, or black skin varying from pliable to woody and from smooth torough and pebbly. The fruit flesh is greenish yellow tobright yellow when ripe, with a buttery consistency. Fruitshave a single large seed making up 10–25 percent of thefruit weight.
Avocado trees vary in size and adaptability to climateand soil type. They also vary in length of time from flow-ering to fruit maturity and, therefore, in season of matu-rity. Fruits of avocado varieties, or cultivars, vary widelyin moisture and oil content, from less than 5 percent oil(with a watery texture) to more than 30 percent oil. Fleshtexture should be smooth, but inferior varieties often havefibrous strings embedded in the flesh. Fruit weight rangesfrom about
lb to more than 3 lb. Three horticultural racesare recognized: Guatemalan, West Indian, and Mexican.Many cultivars are hybrids between races and are notreadily identifiable by race. Most cultivars grown in Ha-waii are of the Guatemalan race, or are hybrids betweenthe Guatemalan and West Indian races.
Seedling plants fail to reproduce true to type, and graft-ing is necessary to maintain desired growth, bearing, andfruit characteristics. Grafted trees usually begin to bearfruit three to four years after transplanting. To avoid
root rot contamination in the nursery whengrowing seedling root stocks for grafting, (1) do not useseed from windfall fruits picked from the ground, (2) propa-
gate seedling rootstocks in sterilized, disease-free media,and (3) do not allow containers to contact soil. Purchaseonly plants that have been grown with these standards of sanitation.
Avocado trees grow well on many soil types providedthe soil is well drained. Planting sites should not have lowareas where water stands after heavy rains. Poor soil drain-age and soil pH less than 6.2 (acid soil reaction) favor de-velopment of
Avocado trees are sensitive to sodium chloride andtherefore are not suited to shoreline planting. Areas ex-posed to high winds should be avoided because branchesare easily broken, and flowers and fruits may be damaged.Relative humidity of 50 percent or more is desirable dur-ing flowering and fruit set, so production in dry areas maybe low.There is a great deal of variation among hybrid culti-vars in adaptation to different elevations and temperatures.In Hawaii, Guatemalan and Mexican races and their hy-brids tolerate cool upland conditions and can be grown upto elevations of approximately 2000–2500 ft. Varieties of pure Mexican parentage, rarely grown in Hawaii, can begrown up to the frost line. The thin-skinned West Indianvarieties, locally known as “summer pears,” usually pro-duce fruit of marginal quality when grown above 1000 ft.
Trees should be spaced 25–30 ft apart. Cultivation forweed control should be avoided by using herbicides; if practiced, cultivation should be as shallow as possible toavoid damage to the shallow avocado root system. Organicmulches are recommended for weed control and mainte-nance of good soil condition. Pruning trees is usually un-necessary except to shape young trees and remove deadbranches. Heavily laden fruiting branches may be proppedwith poles.