Avocados- From Farmers’ Hands to Yours

Highlights:

  • California is the leading producer of avocados
  • The fruit was brought to the U.S. in 1871
  • Hass is the variety often produced in California
Zutano Avocado from Righetti Ranch

Zutano Avocado from Righetti Ranch

Lacee Paolo, an agricultural communications junior at Cal Poly, says:

“They don’t agree with my tongue. They’re kind of mushy.”—Lacee Paolo

When she says this, she is talking about avocados (also known as Alligator Pears).

Marissa Silva (an animal science junior at Cal Poly), on the other hand, says that she loves guacamole. She also enjoys putting avocado on her bacon sandwiches.

But how do avocados make it into your guacamole?

According to David Righetti, of Righetti Avocado Ranch, there are about 500 to 600 different varieties of avocados. More varieties can be produced by planting the seeds of parent avocados, but this often does not result in successful new varieties, he says.

If you were going to grow your own tree from a seed, though, the California Avocado Commission says you would follow these steps:

  1. Wash the seed and suspend it with toothpicks in a glass, where the water covers about an inch of the seed
  2. Keep it in a warm place.  Roots should sprout in two to six weeks
  3. When the seed has sprouted, plant it in a pot of hummus soil, leaving the top half of the seed uncovered
  4. Give the seed frequent, light watering and keep in sunlight
  5. Prune the tree once it has reached 12 inches to encourage more growth
  6. The tree could take seven to 15 years to reach full size

Avocados grow best in direct sunlight and in places with mild winters.  This is why they are so successful in places like California and Florida.  Although a tree could be grown in a shady area, they only produce fruit when they get a lot of sun.

California has become the leading producer state of avocados since they were introduced into the United States in 1871.  The trees introduced were from Mexico.

Hass Avocado from Righetti Ranch

Hass Avocado from Righetti Ranch

The Righetti family’s season usually runs from June to November, says David.  The harvest time usually depends on the variety though, as commercial regulations require that avocados reach eight percent oil content before harvesting.  Once the fruit is ready, it is picked by hand.

“We are well known for our Hass variety, but we have about 50 varieties of avocados on the ranch. Four of which we sell commercially.”—David Righetti

Avocados have become somewhat of an icon for California, since the state grows about 90 percent of the nation’s crop.  In fact, San Diego County is considered the avocado capital of the U.S. (according to the California Avocado Commission).

If you have not tried an avocado yet, I suggest you taste one.  That way, you can join the debate on whether or not they agree with your tongue… if you feel so inclined.

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