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Monday, July 30, 2012

When to Pick the Avocado?

Maybe you remember this post over Summer when I discovered avocados growing on the tree for the very first time? And I jumped up and down and did a big squawk and dance? Yep our avocado tree must be over twenty years old and this is the first time it has fruited. Admittedly there are only three avocados growing but that was enough to get me very excited indeed.

Anyway, all three of them are still there.

But when am I allowed to pick them?

Everything I've read about avocados agrees on a few things - avocado trees need well draining soil and a protected position (tick), and they can frizzle in the sun (seen that) and they don't like frost (don't really get it here). But I can't find much out about when an avocado is ready to pick. One thing I know is that the avocados won't ripen on the tree. You have to pick them first.  But when to pick them?

I read in one place that you should wait until the first avocado drops to the ground and then the others will be ready. But I only have three! If one drops I may not find it amongst all the mulch and creeper and other bits and bots growing at the base of the tree. And this is the place where Wokee the Puppy likes to do her business so I don't fancy rummaging about looking for a single dropped avocado. Other sites say to pick an avocado when it's the right size, pop it in a paper bag for a few days and wait for it to soften and then it's ready. Oh and there's some other stuff about a little belly button at the top of the avocado changing colour - but once they started talking about belly buttons on fruit I tuned out.

I would hate to pick one of these three avocados only to find that it won't ripen and I have wasted one.

They've been sitting about getting fatter and more tempting since January - and they look about right now. And I am impatient. But I'm pretty sure mid Winter in Melbourne isn't the right time to pick an avocado. How long will I have to wait do you reckon?

22 comments:

  1. I am not an expert on when to pick avo's but this year our tree was FULL of avo's. The tree grows on the outside of our yard fence, but it is still on our property. We had people stopping and asking if they could please pick some avo's, and even with them taking their share we still had too many to manage ourselves.
    We pick ours when they look nice and big, but its always a bit of a guess, then we wrap them in newspaper and put them in a cupboard. They usually ripen in 3-5 days, and usually all at once. I must admit that I did sometimes get ahead of myself and cut open some before they were completely ripe, which is such a waste as they do not ripen anymore once cut.

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  2. I happened to see on the Barham Avocado website today that their avocado season has just begun, and I was really surprised to hear that it starts so early in the year. They are a bit further north, on the Murray, but it might indicate that yours are close to ready as well, depending on the type I guess. The one in the picture looks fabulous, enjoy!

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  3. Oooh well that is exciting news. Thanks citycountrygarden. Crystal you are so lucky! And so are your neighbours.

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  4. I am not an expert either, but from the photo I don't think that I could wait any longer... which makes me think... I really need to find space for an avocado tree in the bush!

    Ciao
    A.

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  5. Oh goodness - I have no idea about the answer to your question, but that is so terribly exciting - can I join you in the happy dance?

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  6. I've never had the privilege of picking avocados, but I know that bought ones usually change colour (towards the black end of the green range) so I wonder if this would happen if the fruit were still on the tree?

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  7. I always buy them when they are firm and put them into a brown paper lunch bag with a banana,they ripen quite quickly this way. You could always tie a net bag over each one to stop it falling. The ones that come with onions packed in them.

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  8. I think it also depends on what type of avocado they are. I know a lady who has a type different than in the shops and they are ready before they go brown. I wonder if you planted another avocado next to yours would it help pollinate more for next year- I think they are meant to be in pairs.

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  9. I would be jumping up and down with excitement too! What if you tied a plastic bag around them and then let them drop into the bag?

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  10. Yay! The first harvest is always the best! I have no personal experience how to know when they are ripe, but Backyard Self-Sufficiency (Jackie French) says "Avocados don't ripen until you pick them or until they fall off the tree. Even immature avocados will ripen - they just won't be as nutty as rich." The Aus Fruit and Veg Garden book by Diggers says much the same thing. The Organic Gardener Essential Guide to Fruit says to look for signs of dulling in green cultivars or darkening in purple cultivars, and to look for yellowing of the fruit stem. Do you know what variety it is? That might also help...

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  11. How exciting growing avocados in Melbourne! I can remember back in the 70s (erk!) suspending the seeds with toothpicks in a glass of water and watching them take root and produce leaves. I never took them any further than that, though.

    I love(d) them, but these days I can't eat them at all as I get painful stomach cramps (I blame my daughter - as that reaction started when I was pregnant with her). You'd think after nearly 29 years I'd be over it, wouldn't you? I look on with envy as others enjoy them.

    I hope yours tastes as good as it looks!

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  12. I'd go with what Bek writes - Jackie French is usually on the money. I am super jealous - I had one sprout in the compost but it didn't relocate well, maybe I should bite the bullet and buy a tree - although 20 years would try my patience somewhat.

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  13. How wonderful...no wonder you did a little dance, I would too ;D
    Avocados do not ripen on the tree. Simply pick the fruit when it has reached a good size. It can then be kept for 7 to 10 days at room temperature. If you want to speed up the ripening process, place the avocado in a paper bag with an apple or a banana. The ethylene gas from these will make the avocado ripen faster. When ripe, use the avocado within two days.

    I also watched a tv programme once that showed how you should pick one off the tree. You cut up the stem a little way and not twist and turn like you would a lemon or apple. This stops the avocado rotting apparently. The little stem left lets it carry on ripening first.
    Enjoy whenever you manage to eat one ;D

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  14. Hi Ali, it's so good to know you're still out there. I miss your funny lovely blog. Nope I haven't picked it. I have managed to curb my impatience. Also the truth is no-one else in the family much likes avocados!! So I am going to wait for a week when I'll do tacos and hopefully ripen one to make a guacamole (which they will eat). I just have a hunch they're not quite ready. But then again how would I know!

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  15. Just stumbled across your blog. It's lovely. Is your Avocado growing in Melbourne? I am in Melbourne and have recently purchased a Bacon Avocado. I'm hoping to one day get some fruit off it.

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  16. Hi Gumboot Greener. Yep ours is in Melbourne. Hope you get some fruit. I don't even know what sort mine is!

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  17. I have two now. One that self seeded at the in-laws and they dug up for me to keep. It most likely is a Hass. Will be planting them into the garden soon. Will report back in 7 years!

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  18. We also have one Bacon variety growing in suburban Melbounre. Our tree is laden this year after a few very disappointing years. We tried to ripen 3 a month ago but all just shrunk but ate OK. I am now trying to ripen one at a time. I have had one in a paper bag for 4 days and it is still hard. Can any experienced grower advise? I understand a self seeded one will not fruit here.

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  19. I am now becoming hopeful for our avocado tree in backyard Melbourne. Tree home grown from seed, more than 5 years old, possible 4-5 m tall, and full, absolutely full of flowers, which are still growing and developing into separate, long stemmed flowers, perhaps 8 cm tall ending in a little flower, which has not yet opened.
    Please tell me they will all develop into fruit!!! What can we do to help? When will the tree set fruit, should we remove some to make more room?
    cheers,
    avolovers

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  20. Anonymous
    There is nothing you can do to make the flowers open early, it just needs some sunlight and warmth, but if the buds are there the flower will open. Do you have another avocado nearby and bees to spead the pollen? You have to remember that to have fruit the trees flowers ovaries need to be fertilized... the birds and the bees which help the flowers and the trees.
    If your tree has lots of fruit it is a good idea to thin if you want big delicous fruit... instead of the tree trying to spread its energy over lots of fruit,it can focus on just a few. In saying that avocado trees can support 100s of fruit in on year, but an on year is followed by an off year where some trees cannot support any fruit.

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  21. I was told at a local nursery that there is an "A" type and a "B" type avocado. And that you need one of each for good pollination. My 3 year old tree has about 25 on it, 7 last year. Unfortunately the label was torn off by animals. My other avocado is a Mexicola, about 20 years old in too much shade, but it did fruit a little, maybe a dozen fruits is all, twice without another tree.

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