Avocado: keys to the cultivation and agronomic characteristics

AVOCADO, DIFFICULT TO GROW BUT HIGHLY APPRECIATED FRUIT

Today we are going to go to a somewhat special crop that is grown in Spain in very specific areas. Andalusia (more specifically in Malaga and Granada) and the Canary Islands. In Gardenprue we want, with this entry, that you are encouraged to plant an avocado on your farm or orchard and help you to get it to bear the excellent and nutritious fruit. Once you have a good understanding of its cultivation, take a look at the varieties. There’s a lot!

LET’S GET DOWN TO BUSINESS WITH AVOCADO

Everyone knows what guacamole is, right? That great Mexican sauce with which tacos are seasoned. Well, obviously, from the same place as the sauce, it is the fruit with which it is made. Avocado

Possibly one of the fruits (if not the most) with the highest fat content, with an average of 25% depending on the varieties. Without a doubt it is quantity, although the quality of these fats is unbeatable. More than 3/4 are monounsaturated (like those in olive oil). However, not everything is fat.

It also contains significant amounts of vitamins AC and E as well as minerals such as potassium, magnesium and a very low sodium content, making it ideal for non-retention of fluids. Below we will tell you more about the properties of avocado and its benefits for the body.

If you have a piece of land or farm, after reading this, you may have wanted to plant one to see how it is. We anticipate that avocado cultivation is not easy but here we will help you to achieve it.

Photo by: Kjokkenutstyr Net

AVOCADO PROPERTIES DOES IT REALLY HAVE SO MANY BENEFITS?

SUPERFOOD FASHIONS: REFLECTION

The avocado has been a fruit that has historically been described as a ” superfood” . But what is really a superfood? You have to be careful with these statements because superfood fads are happening that, seen from the outside with a certain criterion and perspective, are truly ridiculous at times.

Examples of this are the famous goji berries . In Spain they became fashionable for their extreme antioxidant effect and everyone ate goji berries. Today no one remembers those supreme fruits, pure ambrosia and superpower givers …

Quinoa is another example. In Spain we have legumes that, eaten with some regularity, provide the same or more nutrients than quinoa.

But there is an exotic component. It seems that what comes from outside is better. And it is a matter of exclusivity and marketing many times. Imagine that I have to sell you the difference between:

  • Quinoa: Pseudocereal of Andean origin with very good properties that contains all the essential amino acids.
  • Lentils: You have eaten them all your life, it is not something new, you know how they taste since you can remember, they put them at home, your grandmother’s were the best and it has been part of your diet since you exist.

These fashions will always exist and we cannot avoid it, but we can relativize the certain benefits that all the foods we eat have. They all have “beneficial things” but we must know how much, and especially the bioavailability.

We do not want to revile the fame of avocado. Of course it is a fruit with a number of unquestionable beneficial components, but that we must put on the table so as not to fall into idealization. We will first list its nutritional composition and then we will talk about the properties:

  • It has an average fat content of 20-25% (depending on the variety). And although yes, it is a lot of fat, at least for the most part it is unsaturated fatty acids (the ones considered good). But we must not forget that it is still fat! It has a high caloric power and for weight gain purposes …
  • Specifically, its highest content is oleic acid (18: 1)
  • Its fiber content is also very acceptable. About 7-9%
  • It hardly has sugars (it does not reach 1%)
  • Its protein contribution is not very notable either. About 2%.
  • It is high in vitamins and minerals, highlighting vitamin E and high content of magnesium and potassium.

Looking at this, then what is avocado good for? Let’s see it.

AVOCADO BENEFITS FOR THE BODY

It is anticancer. It is the first thing they can tell us or we can read in countless places. Yeah, but do we really know what this means? Many foods are discretely attributed anticancer properties , but many, very many. Avocado, thousand plants, infusions, fruits, vegetables … So? Is everything anticancer?

There are many factors that lead to the appearance of cancer and one of the most influential and that we cannot control is genetics. It is a disgrace but it is so. But there is another very influential factor that we can control and it is the type of “things” that we put into the body, be it breathing, eating or what damages us externally such as UVA rays on the skin.

The reality in the middle of 2021, even with all the advances that exist, is that 1 in 2 men and one in 3 women will develop cancer throughout their lives, according to a press release from the SEOM (Spanish Society of Medical Oncology ) in 2017.

If all these foods were so anticancer, this data could not be accommodated when, in addition, food safety and health information is the best in history in this 21st century.

Therefore, when a food is said to have POTENTIAL anticancer properties, everything must be taken with a lot of tweezers . To begin with, “potentials” is not a categorical statement. You have to know how to interpret the results of research studies well.

ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLE

Let’s take an example with avocado. In the meta-study that we have reviewed from 2019 (you have it at the end of the article if you want to consult it) a summary is shown that says:

Clinical studies that demonstrate the anticancer activity of bioactive compounds that are also commonly found in avocado.

That is, a compilation or review of many studies has been made that show that, for example, lycopene, or α and β-carotenes are compounds with demonstrated power to reduce the RISK of contracting cancer of the type that is according to the compound of the let it be spoken. We are generalizing.

The conclusion is that since we have determined that lycopene is anticancer and this compound is in avocado as well, then we can attribute anticancer properties to it. Take it now. That easy. But lycopene also has tomatoes for example.

So when we start listing properties we must first know what we are talking about.

OTHER PROPERTIES OF AVOCADO

  • Antimicrobial properties of the pulp in some varieties with effects on Escherichia coli, Bacillus cereus or  monocytogenes  , among others.
  • Anti- inflammatory properties due to its content of fatty acids, sterols in combination with those of soy (what is known as unsaponifiables from avocado and soy) have shown anti-inflammatory activity in diseases such as arthritis.
  • Healthy properties in cardiovascular health and diabetes . Mainly due to its low sugar content and lipid profile.

WHAT DO I NEED TO HAVE A LUSTROUS AND FRUITFUL AVOCADO IN MY GARDEN?

Go for it. The first thing to consider is where we live. If you live in the north of the peninsula, you will hardly be able to have one. In moderately cold and humid northern areas such as Galicia, for example, it could happen as long as we are close to the coast (due to frost).

As soon as we drop below 0ºC, leaves and shoots are burned. In coastal areas of the east and south of Spain we will do well . Anyway, if you are from a northern area, with hardly any frosts, you can take this as a great challenge, right? I even know people from the south who have not managed to bring the tree to completion in their garden so it is not easy.

If your idea is a commercial production, forget about planting it in the north of the peninsula. It has to be a high production so we need a fairly technical agronomic control and optimal climatic conditions.

If you want to plant one or two in your farm or garden, we are getting into difficult but not impossible care to be able to have avocados in abundance for one, two or three families eating a few months.

HOW TO PLANT AN AVOCADO OR AVOCADO

If you are going to dedicate the cultivation for productive purposes, it is clear that you must choose the variety well (the varieties rather) depending on the final characteristics of the product, the climate or the type of soil.

Although there are many varieties such as Fuerte, Reed, Bacon, Pinkerton … you will know that Hass is the most famous for 2 reasons:

  • The first is that it is an avocado with a very tough skin that withstands post-harvest treatments very well . Mechanically, it is an avocado that damages little and even when picking it something green, it lasts a long time outside the tree, offering it a very good time fork to be distributed all over the world.
  • The second reason is that the skin turns from green to a purplish black when the avocado ripens and this change in color is crucial to know the state of maturity. This does not happen in other varieties.

Having said this and the variety decided, there are nurseries specialized in these crops that provide germinated seedlings. This is the best option.

The soil in the first years must be very careful and we must eliminate the herbs and plants that can compete with the avocado. When the tree is implanted (2-3 years) we can already allow the soil to be covered with the native flora for several reasons:

  • We will achieve less water evaporation (there is greater retention) and since it is a plantation that needs a lot, this will mean significant savings.
  • better soil structure is achieved .
  • It is a refuge for pollinators so important in this crop.

GERMINATE AN AVOCADO SEED

Seeing an avocado seed germinate is quite a spectacle and one that many people usually do. It is very interesting to do it, and if later you also have the climatic conditions and garden to plant it, you can try your luck.

You must always bear in mind that later, you will not have an avocado with a large production. Avocado has a very low percentage of flower set , due to the female and male flower opening lags of types A / B. We explain this in the article on varieties.

  1. Gently scoop out the avocado seed when you go eat it. Clean it well without damaging it or removing the brown scale that covers it.
  2. Stick three or four toothpicks into the shell in the shape of a cross.
  3. Put the peel in a glass of water with the bottom half submerged in water and the other half dry.
  4. Place the avocado near a sunny window.
  5. Change the water every 3-5 days.
  6. After a few days, you will see that the seed begins to open. Cracks will form, and the brown outer part will fall off.
  7. You will see a root emerge towards the water and the stem in the dry part. When it has the first leaves you can transplant it to a pot.

Photo by Jeremy Zilar

AND WHAT SOIL, TEMPERATURES AND IRRIGATION DO I NEED TO GROW AVOCADO?

SOIL CHARACTERISTICS FOR PERSEA AMERICANA

Avocado is a tree with shallow roots and weak in terms of penetration force. Typical of trees that have never needed to dig into the ground to find water.

For this reason, at the time of planting we must have the loose soil, as less compacted as possible, otherwise, we will prevent root development. It tolerates a wide range of soils but the limiting factor is drainage . It is very sensitive to waterlogging.

Loose, aerated soils with a good content of organic matter and a pH close to neutral but a little acidic (5.5 – 7) will be ideal.

WHAT ARE THE IDEAL TEMPERATURES?

Medium – high and without great differences between day and night (especially in the flowering and fruit setting phase, it is of vital importance). The optimum temperature range is usually between 20 and 30ºC during the day and between 10 and 20ºC at night. There are varieties that are somewhat tolerant of low temperatures.

Some can endure a negative record for a few hours, but it is not common or recommended. Of course, in the important phases such as flowering and fruit setting, it is important that there are not very low temperatures.

BRIGHTNESS

In general, avocado cultivation requires good and direct sun exposure . Shaded branches are unproductive. Pruning that allows the sun’s rays to bathe the inside of the canopy is highly recommended. Only the main branches and the trunk need to be shaded.

Does that sound like you? We were talking about it the other day at the entrance to the olive tree pruning . Something similar happens to him.

CHARACTERISTICS OF AVOCADO IRRIGATION

This is, without a doubt, the most determining factor in the success and failure of our avocado. Especially in the early stages of life.

It needs high precipitation regimes but well distributed over time and slow emission. (We remember its root sensitivity to waterlogging ).

It is sensitive to the Phytophthora cinnamoni fungus  whose development is favored by excess humidity. The best is localized irrigation.

Let’s see why:

  • It is slow-emitting.
  • It is easier to regulate the amount emitted by the dropper.
  • Being of variable irrigation depending on age, we can better calculate the irrigation doses.
  • If you program it, you will have fewer headaches.
  • The irrigation dose will increase over the years and it will be easier to establish the frequencies and times.

The amount of water is another thorny issue to deal with. It depends a lot on the climate, rainfall, type of soil and composition, varieties. It is a whole world.

For commercial productions in Spain, there are already established average values ​​for localized drip irrigation , with irrigation doses per months, etc. but always subject to multiple variations due to the other edaphoclimatic factors already mentioned.

Recommendations for avocado cultivation in climatic zones of the south and east of Spain:

These data are indicative since doing some simple calculations we get around 20,000 liters of water per tree and year.

The Junta de Andalucía , for example, has published various irrigation doses calculated according to climatic data found by a meteorological station and shows irrigation needs of approximately 35,000 liters per year per tree. If the planting density is about 400 trees per hectare, the data shows about 7,000 8,000 m3 / ha of cultivation. Of course, to say that for a single tree that we have on a farm, I don’t think that even such quantities are necessary, but water is needed, as you can see.

THE AGROMÁTICA AVOCADO

We have the privilege of presenting you our avocado. An avocado of about 30 years old that was already in the house of an uncle of mine when he bought it. We don’t know what variety it is but it is there and it continues to produce fantastic avocados after so long, and how good!

The example of irrigation in this case we cannot give you because it is located in an area close to cultivated fields and irrigation ditches pass very close, so we imagine that the avocado after so many years will have found a place to get the water from, because the irrigation that is applied to it is not by far the recommended one.

Welcome to The GardenPure! My name is Ryan Heagle, and I’m the founder of The GardenPure, I spent the first part of my adult life teaching and then living in Australia in various business ventures, the first of which was a business devoted to the sale of house plants.  I am now a full time blogger. I am a self taught gardener.

Ryan Heagle

Welcome to The GardenPure! My name is Ryan Heagle, and I’m the founder of The GardenPure, I spent the first part of my adult life teaching and then living in Australia in various business ventures, the first of which was a business devoted to the sale of house plants.  I am now a full time blogger. I am a self taught gardener.

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