You don’t need more than one avocado tree to get fruit production, as I wrote about here, but having two trees and allowing for cross pollination can never hurt. And there are some studies showing increased yield when two different avocado varieties are growing in proximity, which is why I planted a Hass next to a Fuerte.
The idea of avocado cross pollination makes so much sense on paper. Some avocado varieties have female flowers in the morning (called “A types”) while other avocado varieties have male flowers in the morning (called “B types”). You get a bee to fly from one tree’s male flower to a nearby tree’s female flower and voila!
The reality outside is not that cut and dried, however. Sometimes a single tree will have both male and female flowers at the same time, and sometimes two different A types will have slightly different flowering schedules such that for an hour or so one day each tree will have many opposite-sex flowers, as I observed with my Reed and Lamb trees last year.
Nevertheless, having two trees of different types allows for the most cross-pollination opportunities. And this probably explains the studies that show increased fruit yield when different types are growing next to each other. Here is a study by Bob Bergh and Don Gustafson from 1958 which focuses on the Fuerte variety, a “notoriously erratic bearer,” interplanted with Hass and Topa Topa. Bergh and Gustafson report, “Fuerte trees which adjoin Topas set about two-and-one-half times as many fruits as Fuerte trees one row or more removed from Topa interplants.” And then, the Fuerte trees that were isolated “had set an average of 99.3 fruits per tree, while four rows of Fuerte trees which have Hass interplants had set 157.6 fruits on the average.” Conclusion: Fuertes average more fruit production when interplanted with complementary varieties, at least in this particular grove in San Diego County.
Another study, this one focusing on Hass instead of Fuerte, was done by University of California researchers in 2002 to 2005. Part of the summary reads: ” . . . the presence of pollinizer varieties in close proximity enhance the total number of fruit harvested from ‘Hass’. The influence of pollinizers on yield diminishes as the distance from the pollinizer variety increases.”
All of the studies report this last finding — that the benefits of cross pollination are at their highest when the two varieties have branches that are very close, so close that they touch. They suggest a few different ways of achieving this: grafting two varieties on one trunk; planting two trees only a couple feet apart and growing them up like a multi-trunked, single-unit tree; or planting two trees close enough so that their canopies will touch or nearly touch when they reach their mature sizes.
Commercial growers only use this last option. Many decades ago, they found multi-graft trees too difficult to maintain; one of the varieties always ended up overtaking and shading out its partner. They seem to have settled on mere interplanting because it doesn’t require skilled labor to maintain nor to harvest.
I’ve decided on a method most like the second one, that is, I’ve planted most of my trees in pairs that I’ll grow like multi-trunked, single-unit trees, except that I haven’t planted them only a couple feet apart. I’ve planted them 7.5 feet apart. I did this to allow for the survival of the less vigorous tree in the pair.
For example, I planted a SirPrize (B type) 7.5 feet from a Hass (A type). The Hass has outgrown the SirPrize by leaps and bounds, yet the Hass hasn’t started significantly shading the SirPrize because of the space between them. After four years in the ground beside each other their canopies are intermingling and I’ve started to prune them into a single fat pyramid shape that is about 15 feet tall and a little wider.
And I have a Fuerte avocado tree that I’ve provided with a Hass companion. I chose Hass as the A-type companion for my B-type Fuerte mostly because of the aforementioned study by Bergh and Gustafson in 1958 showing increased fruit set by Fuerte trees that had Hass growing beside them. Here’s another photo of my two trees that will someday be growing branches into each other and enhancing each other’s fruit set.
Update, February 2019:
Just to continue the stories of these two trees, the Fuerte remains but the Hass was killed by a gopher. Instead of replanting a Hass, I’ve decided to provide for cross-pollination for the Fuerte by grafting in branches of a few other trees, including Hass.
I discuss the Pinkerton branches that I grafted into this Fuerte tree in my post, “Grafting a pollenizer branch into your fruit tree.”
And here is a video showing the fruitset results on the Pinkerton grafts after one year of growth:
You might also like to read my post:
I just moved here in Huntington Beach to take care of my dad. He has about a 12 year old Avacado tree from seed, only getting a few avacados. I am planting a hass next to it and a fuerte about 22 ft away from it. They are both 5 gal. I hope this will help them all to do well in about 4 yrs. been reading your advice. Thanks a lot of good info.
I like your approach. I think you’ll eventually have a fruitful threesome of avocado trees there.
You never know what you’re going to get when you plant an avocado seed, as you and your dad can attest. I’m going to write a post about that for next week.
Greg, I’m new to your posts; I finally decided to plant an avocado (second attempt after initial failure) and in researching this time to give myself a better chance I discovered your site. And wow! what a discovery! Thanks for being there to help.
I planted a Hass and Fuerte about 7-8 feet apart since I understand this is a workable option. My space is limited and they’re about as far apart as possible without moving into my lawn or taking out both my raised beds. I plan to keep them pruned to about 15 feet. Do you have any thoughts on these two trees being so close together?
A Hass and a Fuerte planted 7-8 feet apart is totally workable. And you ought to get some great fruit set because of the proximity.
What you’ll want to look out for in a couple years is the trees spreading into each other’s space. Especially the Fuerte might be inclined to meander sideways into the Hass tree’s space instead of growing more vertically. You can stake the tree and train it more vertically or prune it as necessary.
I had a Hass 7.5 feet from a Sir-Prize and the Hass grew faster so I had to prune it back so the Sir-Prize still got plenty of sun. It can be hard emotionally to do this to your stronger tree in the pair, but for the sake of the long-term production of the two as a unit it has to be done.
What about a zutano and a lamb? Will they cross pollinate?
Great website and service you provide!
Thanks! Zutano and Lamb will no doubt have some overlap in bloom seasons and flowers in the opposite phases for many hours of each day. So yes, there’s good potential for cross-pollination with those two varieties.
That being said, my Zutano is immature so I don’t have years’ worth of notes to help me say whether its bloom season overlaps very well with Lamb, but my guess is that the overlap is long enough to be useful.
Thanks for the quick response Greg. I have a Lamb and am interested in another smaller type tree to plant as a companion. What about the holiday variety?
Been reading your site for the last year, great info, keep it up!
My Q is, do Lamb and Bacon tend to flower at the same time? or tend to have enough cross flower time to help in pollination of each tree? I’m thinking of planting them 8 feet apart.
Thanks! Yes, Bacon and Lamb bloom will overlap. You’ll probably find that Lamb bloom is a little later than Bacon, but this might depend on your location. Either way, there should still be plenty of overlap time.
Thanks Greg, I appreciate your time answering my question.
Your site is awesome. So much great info to read and think about, and incorporate into my own plantings.
PS. What do you think about the GEM Avocado? I see they are becoming available to the public now.
My experience with GEM isn’t deep. I do have some GEM trees, but they’re young. The GEM trees that I’ve observed elsewhere are attractive as they’re both small and productive. The fruit tastes excellent. I did make a little video profile of the fruit last year, in case you care to see: https://youtu.be/1or6lhrlTK4
Cheers to you Greg this Holiday Season!
Hi, my friend just gave me a small Hass avocado tree. It says it needs a pollinator and will grow 25’ x 25’. I’m worried that my backyard does not have the space for it. Any advice?
You don’t have to let your baby Hass tree grow as big as it possibly can. It’s very easy to prune an avocado tree in order to keep it smaller. And a Hass tree that is kept to ten feet tall and wide can still provide many avocados.
Have a look at these two posts: “Can you grow an avocado tree in a small yard?”
And: “Pruning avocado trees to keep them small.”
Hi Greg. Awesome Site. Just got an Oro Negro to go with my Hass in Florida. Seems like the Hass will be ready to harvest a month before the ON. Will those flowers on both be openaround the same time to cross pollinate??? I’m gonna plant them very close to eachother to form one tree… I’m here in FL, and grow mangoes but your awesome site made me get some Avos. Cheers for that! Yeww!
Greg – I went to Ventura yesterday via Hwy 126. Stopped outside Piru and bought some a few jars of honey for gifts @ Bennetts Honey Farm. One jar was Avocado Honey which I am going to test this next spring. I plan on spraying just parts of the tree like the north or south side, or upper or lower sections and tag what sections I spray. I also might try different types of honey and see if that makes any difference. I plan on using a light mix so I don’t get an ant problem.
I know it’s rough, but you or a few of our readers might give this test a try and it might to add to the depth of research.
Please do update us on how this goes for you. I sprayed honey mixed with water on avocado flowers a few years ago and saw no increased visits of pollinators on the flowers. Maybe I’ll give it another try this spring.
Hi Greg, I like reading your website cause you’re more informative than other backyard avocado growers.
I live in Redlands, Ca and I have a small backyard. I planted 4 avocado trees on the right side of the house 6 yrs ago.
I have a Hass, Zutano, Pinkerton, & Bacon. As you can see I alternated Type A & Type B. They’re planted 6 to 7 feet apart,
Now the Hass is about 15 ft, the rest are about 10 ft. I keep them pruned, both top and side, They give me so much fruit every year, I have to ship some to my friends who are from the East Coast.
Hass matures first starting January. Right now I have the Pinkerton loaded with fruits but I’m waiting till April to pick them.
The Bacon has not really given a lot of fruits cause its branches are sunburnt from last years summer heat. I will paint the trunk with
IVOrganic Plant Guard.
Thanks for your info, that I can actually plant 2 trees 2ft apart
To make it look like a multi- trunk tree. I’ll plant a Hass & a Fuerte.
Then I’ll plant a Reed( columnar growth) about 7 ft away. These will all be planted along my fence line. My neighbor won’t mind cause I let him pick the avocados that are on his side.
A famous gardener once said that a tree will grow only as much as you want it to grow. I’m not afraid to prune my avocados.
Thank you. I love your approach. You’re willing to experiment and willing to prune. And you obviously make your neighbors very happy.
i woluld like ask for the best pollinator for furete variety for a commercial use for large scale farm
On a commercial farm I would be most concerned with the market for the pollenizer variety in addition to its effectiveness as a pollenizer. Hass might be very suitable in both categories. See the study I linked to above showing that Hass effectively pollenizes Fuerte. And I assume that Hass fruit has a decent market where you are.
First Thanks for your reply . What about the reed and Pinkerton. I here that Reed produce too much
Pinkerton has a lot of potential because its bloom season overlaps with Fuerte’s so well. But I don’t know of any formal studies using Pinkerton as a pollenizer for Fuerte, and in my own yard I haven’t noticed Pinkerton actually pollenizing Fuerte well, as shown in that video I linked to, even though I’ve seen evidence that Fuerte is clearly a good pollenizer for Pinkerton.
Reed has potential but less potential just because it blooms late, but it does still overlap with the end of Fuerte’s bloom. In fact, I’m using a potted Reed that is in bloom set next to my Fuerte right now to see if it is effective. It’s too early to tell though. And yes, Reed does produce very well.
thanks alot for your information
Hi Greg from Gold coast, Qld, Australia,
Thank for your website info. Question: About a year ago, I planted a Hass(A) and a Shepard(B) about 15 feet apart to cross pollinate. Both grew rapidly in just one year and both produced many flowers. Unfortunately the Shepard flowered several weeks before the Hass, preventing the possibility of cross pollination and it produced no fruit. The Hass produced 8 fruit by itself. To overcome the offset flowering, I am now planning on planting a third between the two based on your distancing advice (the Hass being a yard from a rock wall). Alternatively, I may remove the Shepard. Do you have any suggestions for the third or for a more timely pollinator for the Hass? Fuerte?
I wish I’d been to the Gold Coast, for many reasons, but in this instance so I could speak more knowledgeably about your avocado situation. In my post a couple weeks ago I linked to a study done in Australia that involved the Shepard variety, and in the study it was estimated that Shepard needed minimum night temperatures about 3 degrees C higher than Hass for good fruitset.
Here is that post: https://gregalder.com/yardposts/will-avocado-fruitset-in-2020-be-like-1965/
Here is that study: http://avocadosource.com/wac9/17-carrbridie2019.pdf
I mention this because it might be the cause of your Shepard’s lack of fruitset. My yard often has night temperatures too low for good fruitset on B-type avocados while I get fine fruitset on A types.
Regarding the overlap in bloom, I don’t know anything about Shepard’s bloom season firsthand, but I suspect that as your tree gets older it will have at least some overlap in bloom with your Hass. Most avocado varieties do overlap in bloom somewhat once the trees are mature because their bloom seasons grow longer. If you have a look at that study (done in Queensland), it shows that there was significant overlap between Hass and Shepard bloom in 2017.
Nevertheless, it can’t hurt to have another pollenizer variety for your Hass. Fuerte can work, yes. Sharwil is another option.
But you might want to choose an A type as your third variety since it will likely produce more fruit in addition to providing pollen for your Hass somewhat. I would just choose an A type that has a different harvest season from your Hass and Shepard.
Wow! I wish I had found this site before I planted my 2 trees. I have a Hass and a Surprise but I planted them at two different places in my yard. They are about 40-50ft apart. Do I need to move one of them?
Funny coincidence: I once planted a Hass and a Sir-Prize in my yard about 100 feet apart, and then I later dug up the Sir-Prize and planted it right next to the Hass because I hoped for better cross-pollination.
If you want optimal cross-pollination potential, then you should plant the trees closer together (move one).
If you don’t, you’re probably going to find that the Hass produces fine on its own. The Sir-Prize might also produce fine on its own if your yard has a good climate for it (warm nights), but it will likely produce less than the Hass whether it’s on its own or beside the Hass.
Thank you so much for your quick response! Ugh! Need to think about this one. I’ve got them in raised beds for good drainage. Got a lot of clay here. That means moving a lot of dirt also.
Greg, my Surprize tree has died. It died a while ago. The Haas is doing well, but still no fruit. Do you think I’ll get fruit if I just have the Haas in my yard?
There are so many Hass trees throughout Southern California that fruit well without any other avocados (let alone B types) nearby. I’d say your chances are extremely high that your Hass will fruit well on its own. You do need to give it a couple years though. A Hass tree planted from a 5-gallon container usually needs about three years in the ground before it produces a crop of more than a few avocados.
Thank you for all this information! Can you let me know how close is too close to plant trees together? Also, we would like a Hass and are considering either a Fuerte or a Bacon as a cross-pollinator. Do you have a suggestion or recommendation either way?
There’s no such thing as planting trees too close together, technically. It all depends on your goals for the trees. Check out my post on spacing for avocado trees: https://gregalder.com/yardposts/how-far-apart-to-plant-avocado-trees/
Both Bacon and Fuerte have demonstrated themselves to be effective pollenizers for Hass in numerous studies. So I would choose based on other factors. At my page on avocado variety profiles, you will find posts and videos about Fuerte and Bacon, and hopefully they will help you choose the right one for you: https://gregalder.com/yardposts/avocado-variety-profiles/
I’m new to this avocado farming and I have a question, does cross pollination affect the variety of the fruits? Let’s say I want pure breed hass fruits, if I cross pollinate it with fuerte will I still get pure hass fruits?
Good question. The short answer is that the cross-pollination won’t affect the fruit. But the long answer is that the cross-pollination will affect the fruit in tiny, unimportant ways. It has been found that seed size and fruit size can be slightly affected by the pollenizer, for example. But nothing significant about the overall look and taste of the fruit will be affected.
There’s some research by Mary Lu Arpaia about this that I can’t now locate, but here is mention of it in another paper: “The work of Degani et al (1990) has shown that pollinizer may also influence both fruit size and seed size in ‘Fuerte’. More recently (Arpaia, unpublished data) observed that ‘Hass’ seed length to width ratio was also influence by the proximity to different pollinizer varieties.”
This is from: http://www.avocadosource.com/Journals/2_Seminario/2_Seminario_Arpaia_Pre_and_Postharvest_Quality_ENG.pdf
I live in Mandeville, LA. We’re just across the lake from New Orleans. I have a Haas sapling and I am wondering what would be a good match for cross pollination. Any suggestions?
There are many options for B-type avocados that have been shown to provide pollen for Hass, including: Fuerte, Zutano, Bacon, Sir-Prize, Ettinger, and Edranol.
Hi Greg, I live in uganda, East Africa and I am an agronomist however, Avocado production is new in our country because I have liked your submissions, tell me can I use the local varieties to act as type B in my orchards.
New Has grower
Hello to you in Uganda. You certainly can use local B-type varieties to pollenize Hass. Over time, with observation, you might find that specific varieties pollenize Hass better than others, and then you can use those varieties more in the future.
One simple thing you can look for initially is that the B type generally blooms at the same time as Hass, not too much earlier or later. I would start there.
Thanks very much for your response
My neighbor has a pinkerton. What is a good avocado to plant on our side of the fence
B-type avocados that bloom about the same time as Pinkerton and are delicious to eat include Sharwil and Fuerte. Some other options are Ettinger, Zutano, Bacon, Edranol. Nabal and Hellen bloom a bit later than Pinkerton but the benefit with them is that their fruit also matures later (if you and your neighbor are sharing fruit). Fuerte is probably the easiest tree to find for purchase, and has consistent bloom overlap with Pinkerton, and tastes great.
I live in Rancho Cucamonga (Etiwanda area) and want to plant Hass trees, my husband says we cannot have them because of the winds, is this true?
I’m guessing your husband is referring to the Santa Anas. My brother and his family used to live not too far from you (closer to Carnelian) and he had avocado trees in his yard and I saw many happy Hass trees in his neighborhood that were loaded with fruit. I’ve seen some good avocado trees in Fontana too. It’s true that you’re going to lose some fruit in a strong Santa Ana, and some varieties hold their fruit in the wind a bit better than Hass (e.g. Lamb), but I think it would still be worth giving a tree a try.
hello Greg.i have one curiosity.Why a tree cross-pollinated doesn not produce mixed fruits? Shouldn’t an Hass x fuerte tree produce fruits which are a mix of the two parental trees?
Thanks for all your informative and helpful posts. I have a small yard (18×40) in Venice. Does it make sense to plant Pinkerton and Sir Price for cross pollination? I know you said Sharwil will do great with Pinkerton so that is an option. I think Haas and definitely Fuerte are too big for my yard or you think it can still work with pruning?
Pinkerton and Sir-Prize sound like a decent combination, except that their harvest seasons are very similar — then again so are Pinkerton and Sharwil.
I don’t know how much space you want to dedicate to avocado trees but you can keep Hass, Fuerte, or any other avocado variety down to as low as 12 feet in height and around the same in width by pruning (and still get a good amount of fruit).
Thanks for the response. I ended up planting Alphonse Karr bamboo around the front perimeter for privacy and (4) avocado trees; a Haas with Sir Prize 7 feet away (both from 24×24 containers, Paradise Nursery in Chatsworth), and on the other side of the yard, a Nabal and Stewart 7 feet apart (both 5 gallon from Louise Nursery, Riverside). All growing well except the Sir Prize is doing well on one side and poorly on the other. It was partially shaded at the nursery so the hidden part has burnt leaves in the bright sun while the exposed part is doing just fine. I think the one side will loose most of it leaves….it’s a bit sad looking but hopefully will pull through. I was a bit too ambitious but ended up giving the Fuerte, Pinkerton and Mexicola Grande trees I had bough tat Louise’s to my nephew who planted them in his yard in Torrance. He says I can go into his yard and pick them anytime in the future so that’s excellent! He has a huge yard so I’m think of adding a Haas, Sharwil and Gem there….I think I got all my bases covered.
Hi Greg. I have 2 adult haas avocado trees that I have been able to plant in my yard. I’ve noticed that the trunks have some surface brown areas. They’ve had this on them when I had them potted as well. They’re growing just fine and leaves are sprouting practically every day.
Can you give me pointers on what I might need to do if the brown areas are not supposed to be there?
I use jobe’s fruiting spikes as per directions.
I just purchased a Sharwil tree from a local nursery and was wondering if there’s another tree I should plant with it for cross pollination. I’m having some difficulty finding much information on Sharwil trees. I currently have a Holiday tree and a Reed planted in my yard.
Sharwil is a “B” type. Holiday and Reed are “A” types, so you already have complimentary trees for cross pollination (assuming they are semi close together). Nice collection of trees!
have1Hass Avocado Tree but was wondering if I need 2 to get fruit
No. One Hass tree will produce plenty of fruit on its own. No need for another avocado tree of any kind nearby in order to get a good amount of fruit from a Hass tree.