Planting Avocadoes: Tips and Pitfalls in Choosing Varieties and Cultivation

peterchristopher's picture

If you like avocadoes, and you own some land in the tropics, by all means you should plant avocadoes.  Here are a few tips.

The simplest tip is to plant varieties that are true to seed and are known to produce well locally. These are often called the criollo varieties.  They are not grafted. If your neighbor or someone in a similar climatic zone has some of these producing well, and you like the taste, then plant those - my advice is to plant at least 6 trees if you have the space.  Even though criollo generally have fewer cross-pollination issues, avocadoes are notoriously tricky to pollinate and having some extra diversity might make a big difference.  Planting from seed does mean the tree will take a few extra years to produce.  But make a big hole with abundant organic matter, water it well, and the tree will grow well.

If, however, you want to have a longer avocado season, or want some specific grafted varieties whose shape or texture or taste you adore, or are in a real hurry to get your first avocado, then you might also consider planting some grafted varieties.  But be careful, because if you don't choose and plant grafted avocadoes carefully, you'll end up with nice trees but no fruit.

The thing to remember when buying grafted avocado is that many varieties require the correct cross-pollination pairs. You need to get a different variety that flowers at the same time of year (there are 3 flowering seasons in most classification schemes) and same day time (AM/PM) - then plant them close enough for insect/wind pollination. Otherwise the pitfall is that you'll spend 10 years waiting and then wonder why your tree makes flowers but no fruit.

Finally, just as with mango, sometimes you need to have some tricks to kick an avocado tree into thinking it's important to make fruit.  In Nicaragua, I remember one man I knew who had about 10 criollo avocado trees, and he swore by the practice of choking the trunks with wire that he later removed.  In Orotina, the mangoes are all girdled removing bark in a specific way.

Sometimes, of course, you can get lucky just by throwing a seed into the backyard and waiting.  But when it comes to avocadoes, don't get your hopes up if you don't do your homework.

Here is one link that just gives some background on some of the pollination issues with a small subset of avocado varieties.  You'll have to do additional research based on the varieties you have locally available. Cultivate avocadoes.  They are delicious and very healthy. If you have worms you may need to spray with lorsban and/or cipermetrina, or come up with a bagging system.  Don't stress too much if you do need to spray, because you're spraying on the outside and you don't eat the shell.

http://www.avocadosource.com/papers/Research_Articles/StoutAB1933.pdf

ps Don't forget to fertilize regularly with organic and/or chemical fertilizer, and to water your trees during the dry season the first few years!

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Maybe 50% chance

Based on a quick web search, I think Hass is usually grown higher up, being a Guatemalan-type of avocado.  Nevertheless, I think if you make sure to plant it in a well-drained location adding abundant organic fertilizer and giving some irrigation in the dry season it might be ok.  I wouldn't plan a business around it, but it's possible that it would produce.

Haas

 I have seen Hass in the Central Valley. What are the chances it would like the costal areas of Costa Rica?

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