Late-Maturing Avocado Varieties Gaining Ground in California
For the last three years (2020-2022), avocado production in the United States began in February and peaked in May, when significant volumes were imported from Mexico.
However, late-maturing varieties are gaining popularity in the US because they allow for an extended harvest season. This translates into greater availability of fresh produce during periods when supplies would usually be low.
Late-maturing varieties allow US growers to increase their production volume in June, July, August and September, when Mexican avocado volumes are the lowest of the season, thus obtaining better prices.
Which late-maturing varieties are being grown?
Late varieties of avocados have become popular in California for several reasons.
First, because they mature later in the season, these varieties allow growers to fill a gap in the market when the supply of other types is limited. This enables them to extend the avocado season and maintain a steady supply through September.
Also, late avocado varieties tend to have attractive characteristics, such as larger size and excellent fruit quality, that consumers appreciate and drive demand.
Efforts are underway to increase the production of these varieties through high-density planting techniques and other orchard management methods to make them more economically attractive to growers.
Popular late varieties include:
- Reeds: Oval in shape, with dark green, rough skin, pale green flesh, and a smooth, creamy texture. Reeds are known for their mild, buttery flavor with a slight hint of sweetness.
- Lamb Hass: Similar in shape to the traditional Hass avocado, this variety has rough, dark green skin, light green flesh and a smooth, creamy texture. The Lamb Hass avocado is also characterized by its mild, buttery flavor.
- GEM: Characterized by its dark green skin and oval shape, the flesh of the GEM is light green and has a smooth, creamy texture. It’s popular due to its long harvest period, so it is available for a longer part of the season.
- Bacon: It has an oblong shape, and its flesh is pale yellow and has a firmer texture compared to other avocado varieties. This variety is prized for its ability to remain firm even after ripening, which makes it suitable for slicing.
What is the state of the avocado season in California?
Despite a late start due to early season rains, California avocado growers report excellent quality, large sizes, and good yields in their 2023 crops.
However, the California Avocado Commission projects a harvest of just 257 million pounds this year, a 7% reduction in expected volume compared to the previous year.
Torrential rains that hit California at the beginning of the year are the primary driver of this reduction, and they were particularly damaging to orchards in Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.
Although the avocado market is extremely competitive, late varieties should allow US growers to find success by providing supply during Mexico’s low season.
Sources: USDA, Agronometrics, Portal Frutícola