This question is unanswerable in an objective sense. But I’m game to attack it with a fun and practical twist: I’m imagining that I just moved into a new house with a blank yard . . .
One tree: Hass
If I had the space for only one avocado tree, I would plant a Hass. You might find this answer boring, in which case I’d be willing to bet that you don’t already have a Hass tree in your yard.
If the only Hass avocados you’ve had are from the grocery store, then you have no idea. A homegrown Hass, picked at prime time — around May or June in southern Southern California, but some months later up near Point Conception — and ripened at room temperature on a kitchen counter (not refrigerated and gassed with ethylene during its mishandling on the way to a retail outlet) is a knockout. But that’s actually not why I’d choose it to grow as my only tree. There are other varieties that taste as good or possibly slightly better than Hass.
Hass beats almost everyone at the length of its harvest season. With a single Hass tree you can have good avocados at hand for at least seven months out of every year.
Avocados don’t ripen while hanging on the tree. They grow and mature on the tree, but they only ripen (soften) after being picked, after their stem is severed. Hass has the wonderful ability to mature its fruit and then hold them on the tree for many months, waiting for you to pick them. (Compare that to many peaches, which can’t hold their mature fruit for more than a couple weeks!)
Two trees: Reed with Hass
If I had the space for two avocado trees, I would plant a Hass and a Reed. The main reason I’d choose Reed is that its harvest season complements the Hass. Reed is basically a summer-into-fall variety. In my yard, Reeds start to taste good as early as May, and can go through September. As you get closer to the ocean and farther north, the Reed season gets later and longer because of the cooler temps. But the important thing is that Reeds taste great a couple months after Hass are at their best. So with just these two trees, I’d have the highest quality avocados in the world for most months of the year.
(Alternatively, if I had a neighbor with a Hass or a vendor at a farmers market who sold good Hass, then I could plant a Reed as my only tree.)
What’s Reed like? It’s significantly bigger than Hass, as seen in the photo above, and Reed also stays green when it’s ripe. Big and green are the two fatal qualities that prevent Reed’s acceptance as a commercial variety in today’s small and black Hass world.
(See more about Reed in my post, “The Reed avocado tree: a profile.”)
Funny thing is that Hass was once an outsider. “Its single disadvantage is its black color, which has been associated in the minds of the public with poor quality fruits,” wrote H.B. Griswold in a 1945 article titled, “The Hass Avocado.” This was written when the green Fuerte was king of a young California avocado industry.
Three trees: Fuerte with Reed and Hass
If I had the space for three avocado trees, I would add a Fuerte to the mix. Although I enjoy the diversity of tastes in most all avocado varieties, there’s something about Fuerte fruits that hit the target for me. It could be something I acquired from eating Fuertes as a kid, I don’t know. But the distinctive smooth texture and nutty yellow flesh of a perfect Fuerte is so appealing to me that I don’t even want to adulterate it as guacamole.
Then why isn’t Fuerte my top choice? Compared to Hass, its harvest season isn’t quite as long. And compared to Reed, Fuerte’s production isn’t as consistently high. In fact, Hass also produces more reliably than Fuerte in most places. (Both Reed and Hass produce more than Fuerte in my yard.) This is one of the reasons that Hass went from obscurity in 1945 to over 95 percent of the commercial avocado production in California today. (See page 28 in Gary Bender’s book, Avocado Production in California.)
(See more about Fuerte in my post, “The Fuerte avocado tree: a profile.”)
But Fuerte can produce (see the photo above). And along with Reed and Hass, I’d have a great threesome in a backyard because Fuerte’s season starts a couple months before Hass. So I could eat Fuerte starting in the late fall, then switch to Hass in the spring, and pick Reeds from the summer until almost when the next crop of Fuerte is ready. That’s nearly year-round, top-notch avocados from three trees.
Why not the others?
There are lots of other very good avocado varieties. But I would add them only after planting this trio. Some of them are relegated to a lower tier because of flavor (Zutano); some aren’t productive enough (Holiday).
But a couple are right on the cusp of that top tier. If I couldn’t find a Reed, I’d substitute with a Lamb. Lambs are also highly productive, taste very good, and mature in summer into fall.
(See more about Lamb in my post, “The Lamb/Hass avocado tree: a profile.”)
And if I couldn’t find a Fuerte, I’d substitute a Pinkerton. Pinkertons are very productive, especially considering that they are a smaller tree, and like Fuerte, Pinkertons also mature a bit earlier than Hass. The main negative is that, to me, Pinkertons don’t taste quite as good as Fuertes.
(Not that Pinkerton avocados aren’t delicious though. See my short video profile of Pinkerton avocado fruit here.)
I hope you get a chance to plant a real avocado tree — or three — this spring. And I hope this post helps you choose your own best kind.
(If you’re wondering where to buy one of these avocado varieties — or any other variety of avocado tree — see my post, “Where to buy an avocado tree.”)
You might also like to read my posts:
Avocado varieties for year-round harvest
Should you buy a big or small avocado tree?
Growing avocados in Southern California
Do you need two avocado trees to get fruit?
Those three trees would be my choice too, another benefit of the fuerte in the mix is that it’s a b type and you will get good pollination and more fruit set. Thanks really enjoy your posts!
Should I plant a Reed to complement my other trees? I have a place near my citrus trees. Is that too far away?
I love your articles!!
Yes, plant that Reed! And don’t worry about the distance.
As Adrian alluded to above, Hass and Reed are A types while Fuerte is a B type, which makes cross-pollination all the more likely, enhancing fruit set. But keep this in mind: each of these three varieties is capable of producing a hundred avocados on a tree that’s less than 15-feet tall — even if it’s not close to an opposite-type tree. I’ve seen numerous examples of this throughout Southern California.
Also, avocado flowers are primarily pollinated by bees, and bees readily fly between trees that are 50 feet apart. I’m watching them do so in my yard right now.
Great article Greg! Wish I’d read something like this a few years ago. Better now than never. I love my Hass. I picked up the last Reed from Walter Andersen’s last week and a little Fuerte. Now I have all three. This makes me very happy?
Such great information for gardening in San Diego! Thank you!
Great and very informative information for us who are interested in Avocado farming.However I need more information on how I could distinguish different Avocado trees, for instance I understand that Hass avocado trees are ever green. So I need to know the characteristics of other types of Avocado trees. Thank you in advance for your assistance.
Great article, and I agree with your choices of Hass, Reed, and Fuerte, but only if you live in a true mild avocado climate. If you live in a cooler area I think it calls for some adjusting.
I live on the edge here in the San Fernando Valley when it comes to frost (and heat) so in addition to my Reed I have planted Sir Prize, Stewart, and Mexicola as cooler weather backups.
I also have a Bacon way in the back yard mostly for pollinating. I would have preferred a Jim Bacon but couldn’t find one. I just planted a Sharwill which I found at Atkins, hoping that our “Global Warming” trend leans my way.
Also I love Fuertes, but only if you have a big yard. Most people are a bit lazy when it comes to tree pruning. Asking them to prune 3X a year I think is questionable.
One last thing. When I walk around my neighborhood here in Sylmar, Its amazing how most people abuse their avocado trees by having their gardeners rake up those leaves as soon as they hit the ground. When you talk to them they are totally clueless.
Thanks for the good ideas. Just so you and other readers know, my yard is in inland San Diego County near the town of Ramona. I know Sylmar, and I would guess that my neighborhood is slightly milder than yours even though my area is also on the hot side in summer and chilly side in winter, as far as most of Southern California goes.
Incidentally, I have found Reed to be excellent in the heat. How does your Reed do through Sylmar summers?
You’re absolutely right that most people won’t prune their avocado trees. It’s a sad fact. I say sad because avocados must be the easiest trees on the planet to prune. The wood is soft, the leaves are soft. The only tough part is that you must whitewash exposed bark.
About the leaves, I think most people just think it looks messy. Of course, they don’t understand the function of that leaf litter. They must look at my yard and think it’s disgusting!
Greg – The Reed is only two years old and have not harvested any fruit yet. If you want to know how to kill an avocado tree, ask me I’ve done it all. I didn’t protect my Reed with shade cloth when I first planted it, and my paint protection was not enough to prevent the top being seriously burned so I lost about 18-24 inches on the top. We might be on to something. With this global warming trend I think it might be time for U.C. Riverside to
come up with some heat resistant varieties.
Yes, heat tolerance would be a desirable quality indeed. On that note, I should mention a post that I wrote a couple summers ago after my yard reached 109.8 degrees one day. That day gave me a chance to compare the heat tolerance of multiple varieties: https://gregalder.com/yardposts/heat-tolerance-of-avocado-varieties/
I was curious where you get all the wood chips for mulch?
I listen for the sound of a chainsaw. And when I hear one in my neighborhood, I find the tree trimmers and ask if they’d be willing to dump their chips by my driveway. I have a space there where it’s convenient for them to dump.
But sometimes I don’t get lucky with that method, in which case I go to the Miramar Landfill in San Diego where they process such wood chips along with other yardwaste by composting it for a couple weeks and screening it. They call it Standard or 4″ mulch. (I prefer this to their compost, which is a bit overcooked and too fine for my liking. It becomes hydrophobic whereas the mulch never does.) Here’s a link to Miramar’s offerings: https://www.sandiego.gov/environmental-services/miramar/greenery/cmw#products
I’ve been told that landfills in other counties offer similar products.
Thanks, great ideas!
When you put a thick layer of tree trimmings down, do you turn them to allow air to circulate? One concern I have about fresh trimmings is the build up of spores and what not from it just being piled up (6 inches or so thick).
I just put down the mulch and leave it be. If it’s fresh and thick, you’ll soon notice a lot of fungal growth (hyphae — white webby stuff) if you poke inside, but that’s never had bad consequences as far as I’ve observed.
In fact, it is precisely the microbes in there doing their work that produce the enzyme called cellulase which is said to fight the pathogenic fungus that causes root rot disease in avocados (Phytophthora cinnamomi). So, in a sense, you don’t want to disturb them.
See this article about mulches and controlling root rot in avocados: http://www.avocadosource.com/WAC5/Papers/WAC5_p561.pdf
I see, thanks for the link.
so you’re saying when i’m trimming my own trees each year that i can just ask them to just dump them in my driveway so i can use it as mulch too? how come i never thought about this!
We’ve been in our San Diego (San Carlos) home a year and are finalizing landscaping. We planted 4 avocados in the front: Hass, Sharwil/Kona, Fuerte, and Reed. We’re trying to get avocados all year round with varieties we’ve tried and like. I plan on keeping the trees no taller than about 12’, so I don’t have to get on a ladder. To mitigate the clay soil, the planting area is raised, and the adjacent rock wall is free standing to allow drainage.
Stay sharp! Robert
That sounds like an excellent setup and arrangement of varieties. I know you know the pruning game so I’m sure you’ll have no problem keeping the trees at 12 feet. Nice work!
Greg, thanks for the article and all the comments.
Where do you guys find Reeds in San Diego? I have tried a bunch of places with no luck, its even hard finding a Fuerte.
In Northern California Hass doesn’t do as well for some reason (unless you live on the coast) compared with other varieties.
Yet Pinkerton, Mexicola, Bacon, Jim Lamb, Wurtz and Reed do well here. In fact I find that Pinkerton here is actually better than down South and in fact better than Hass. (Then again I let mine hang until June.)
Sharwil, Stewart, Sir Prize, Hass and Holiday don’t seem to do as well here in comparison. Btw, from my experience and reading on Aussie forums Sharwil is very heat sensitive so unless it is 80 all year around it is not worth growing.
For anyone in the bay area I recommend Pinkerton and Lamb. Together you will get year round fruit, they’re small for avocado trees and better tasting than what you find in stores.
Then you can add a third one strictly based a flavor. I can’t live without one of the Mexicola types.
Thanks a lot for contributing this. I like the combination of Pinkerton and Lamb; that makes a lot of sense in terms of tree size and complementary seasons.
My experience with Sharwil in my own yard and my observations of other Sharwils confirm that it’s not the most predictable bearer, unfortunately. Even in warm-winter locations it doesn’t always bear as well as some A types.
Where approximately in Northern California are you located?
I live in the bay area/delta in Brentwood. Years ago when I started planting it was hard to find out what to grow up here. But now with youtube it has been easier to see what can be grown up here.
I have Lamb, Pinkerton, Reed, Mexicola Grande, Hass, Holiday and Ettinger. Lamb, Reed, Pinkerton (and Grande) seem to be the happiest and healthiest. The three more Guatemalan types get afternoon shade which I think helps since in recent years our summers are very intense much like inland Riverside and or Redlands as I recall with temperatures reaching well over a 100 more often than a decade ago.
In fact nowadays growing mangos and bananas is becoming more common here whereas just a decade ago an avocado tree put you on the cutting edge of growing.
FWIW I think Fuerte, Reed and obviously a great Hass are among my top 5 so your advice is excellent.
Also someone mentioned tree size and I think I have seen better luck with fresh smaller trees since they were not sitting in pots too long. I noticed that usually the soil in big box stores are not the best for avocados but that seems to be changing as the last tree I bought (Ettinger) came in black sand.
Thanks for everything. I enjoy your videos!
Thanks for these comments. I don’t have a lot of firsthand experience with avocados in your area so I try to be keep quiet about what will grow well there and how to do it. I’m glad you have shared how things are doing at your place so others nearby are clued in.
Black sand? Wonder what that was all about. Who grew it, any idea?
I wish I had time to make more videos. I think they can be really helpful if done well. I certainly appreciate it when others make clear and quality videos to help me.
Oops! By black sand I meant sandy loom. Miuch like Citrus, Palm and Catus mix. Usually the soil we get up here for avocados is more suited for stone fruit. I don’t know the nursery it is originally from. It was at Lowe’s with just an Ettinger tag. It’s only the second time I have seen one in 5 years so I took it as fate and bought it to replace a Bacon I had which was burnt away by the sun yet I am convinced it was mislabeled and wasn’t actually a Bacon. It seems that I should have bought the first Ettinger I saw five years ago. LOL! Thanks again for everything.
I enjoy hearing your feedback on Holiday. From what I hear it is a great tasting avocado but they don’t seem to produce much up here. Is that the same down South? Are they light producing or is that they are slow growing therefore they are light producing because they are small?
I like the way you put that. Holiday doesn’t produce much down here either, from the trees I’ve seen and grown, compared to other varieties. But it’s good to keep in mind that the trees are small so you can’t expect them to produce as much as fast as a vigorous variety like Hass — especially when the Holiday fruit are much larger than Hass. Nevertheless, even compared to other trees the same size, Holiday is usually later and lighter in production. I’m very close to cutting mine down. The fruit is tasty, but not that tasty.
Found some 5gals at Atkins in Fallbrook. I like that place, he even recommended going down to Maddocks a bit further if he didnt have what I wanted. Screw the big/medium locals, I am going to Fallbrook from now own to get my avo trees straight from the growers. Atkins has a bunch of other varieties that you never see around.
Yes, Atkins is a great source of uncommon avocado varieties. Oliver Atkins, the founder of the nursery, was the longtime chair of the Variety Committee of the California Avocado Society. I have bought a number of trees there. I’m glad you found your Reed there!
I also like Maddock. I’ve never bought from Clausen but have heard good results from a friend who has bought avocado trees there.
Most of the other retail nurseries buy from the same wholesale growers (La Verne and Durling). So from Armstrong and Evergreen and Walter Andersen, etc. (and even Home Depot) you can get a Reed avocado tree grown by La Verne or Durling. However, they often don’t have any in stock, which means your only choice is to put in a request and wait for delivery — as you noted.
It’s crazy that these bigger nurseries carry many more inferior varieties, such as Zutano, while less frequently have Reed. I just don’t understand it.
Hope your Reed takes off this summer.
Very happy with my Zutano. About 8 miles inland in Southern Sonoma County. Started producing at 3? years, 7 now. Old mexicana only a few a year, sometimes none.
I’m glad you’re happy with your Zutano. Sorry that I bad-mouthed Zutano in the comment above. I have a friend down here in Southern California who also is very happy with his Zutano tree.
I was surprised this past weekend that I found the Lowes in La Mirada had 10 Reed’s in 5 gallon containers. So surprised I bought one to see how well it works as a hedge as you mentioned in another article. Home Depot in Whittier has mainly had Zutanos, Bacons and Hass while Lowes hadn’t had anything.
I’m also always unsure what I’m going to find at these types of stores, which is why I always have a look when I’m shopping there. Sometimes the selection and quality is terrible, but sometimes it’s excellent.
Good luck with the Reed. Do remember how heavy the fruit is, and that it will cause branches to bend down significantly. If you want to maintain that upright growth, then it’s best to limit the fruitset or pinch the tips of branches as they grow so that they fork more and are better able to hold a load of fruit.
Thanks Greg. Wish Maddocks was open on the weekend so i could check it out. Going back to Atkins to get a Sharwil to pair with my Reed.
Now I am wondering if I will regret having a Bacon paired with my Hass instead of getting a Fuerte. Maybe I should dig a 5th hole. Thanks again.
The two main differences between Bacon and Fuerte are that Fuerte tastes better but Bacon is more productive.
I don’t think you’ll regret a Hass/Bacon pair unless you don’t like the milder taste of Bacon. It doesn’t make great guacamole, but it’s excellent on sandwiches and in smoothies.
So I tried a Reed for the first time today from the farmer’s market. At least I think it is a Reed, they said it was and it definitely looks like one from all the pictures.
It’s good no doubt, but being the guy at Clausen told me it is the _best_ avocado, I was a bit surprised that it didn’t have the high oil content like a Hass, it reminded me much more of a Fuerte, milder and more water based than oil based.
What is the next most “oil-based” Avo after the Hass? The Mexicola and Lamb both look like they might be based on the pictures I have seen.
See if you can find a Reed to try again in September and you’ll probably get a richer flavor from it.
Still, taste is subjective and there’s no accuracy in saying any one variety is the best tasting to anyone but yourself.
Lambs do get rich, for sure. But not until the end of summer. Mexicola is the oiliest variety that I have tasted but it’s a bit too intense for me, and I wouldn’t say it’s one of my favorites. Might turn out to be yours though!
Hi! I’d like to plant an avacado tree in my front court yard. Besides it being a source of great tasting fruit i’d like it to be a nice (picturesque) shade tree. From your experience what avocado tree should I plant? I was considering planting coastal live oak at first but now leaning towards fruit (avocado) tree instead. I live in San Diego, about 7 miles away from the coast. Thanks. Yulia
If you want the tree to grow more vertically, I’d plant a Reed. If you want it to spread very horizontally, I’d plant a Fuerte. If you want it to grow both up and wide, I’d plant a Hass.
Truly, you can prune almost any variety to almost any shape, but it’s easier if you go with the natural tendency of the variety.
The only varieties that I would avoid for the use of shade are Holiday, Wertz, Stewart, Gwen, and Lamb. These are varieties that take a long time to get big enough to be useful as shade trees compared to other varieties.
Thank you. You answered my question.
Thank you for your great thoughts on Avo’s! I’m really benefiting from your observations.
Do you have any experience or exposure to Nabal Avo’s?
Yes, I like Nabal. They’re rich in flavor and creamy in texture without any strings. They’re similar to Reed in both taste and appearance (round and green skin), except that the Nabals I know have a thicker, shell-like skin. The skin also gets some brown russetting. Come to think of it, I’d say Nabal fruits taste a tad richer than Reed, actually.
The variety has been grown in Southern California for about a hundred years, having been brought up from Guatemala by Wilson Popenoe.
What are your thoughts on a Sharwil Tree? I’ve never tasted one but wondering how it compares to Reed and Hass in your opinion.
How is the sharwil compared to fuerte?
The taste of a Sharwil avocado is excellent, on par with any avocado that I’ve tasted. In terms of comparing it to the taste of other avocados, that’s tricky for me. I never feel like I have a palate that is refined enough to give a sufficiently florid description.
What comes to mind is that Fuerte has a more distinctive flavor. If I eat some Fuerte fruit blindfolded, it’s so easy to identify it as Fuerte. But for others like Hass and Reed and Sharwil, to take the ones you mentioned, they just taste like awesome avocados. They aren’t peculiar in flavor to me, they just taste like everything I hope for when I think “avocado.”
As for growing a Sharwil tree in your yard, you’ll probably find that it won’t be quite as productive as a Hass or Reed, but possibly more productive than a Fuerte. Note that I’m really tentative about saying this. I can’t speak from personal experience about my own Sharwil trees because they’re too young, so this guess is based on what I’ve seen in others’ Sharwil trees in Southern California. Also, strangely, there aren’t too many Sharwils around considering that it’s not a new variety and everyone who tastes one says they approve.
But I think it’s going to be a more common variety for Southern California in the future. Just a couple days ago, I visited the largest organic avocado orchard in California, and they recently planted a lot of Sharwil trees.
Can you please tell me which avocado orchard you visited in California? I’ve been looking for a long time where could I purchase sharwil avocados. I’ve been looking at farmers markets in San Diego, no luck so far.
I’m sorry but even though that farm has Sharwil avocado trees growing, the trees are too young to have a substantial crop and so they haven’t started selling the fruit. They are located in Fallbrook, and possibly in 2020 they’ll start selling Sharwils. I’ll ask and post an update here as I learn. I don’t know of any other commercial avocado grove with many Sharwils, unfortunately.
have a question about sizing when purchasing. reading on other forums, i’ve seen comments that it’s better in the long run to plant a smaller size tree (3 gallon +) compared to a larger 15+ gallon size tree….that the smaller size tree will out perform and out grow the larger gallon size in the future. have you seen any truths to that? (it is tempting to just buy a larger tree but i’m in it for the long run).
I’ve heard people say that too, but I’ve never found evidence for it. The fifteen-gallon avocado trees I’ve planted have all continued to be far bigger and productive earlier than five-gallon trees planted at the same time.
There are a lot of factors that go into the long term performance of a tree, but all other things being equal (health of tree, scion variety, rootstock, care), I also see no theoretical reason that a younger tree would somehow jump ahead of an older tree. And that’s what a five- compared to fifteen-gallon tree is: younger.
The main reason that I usually buy small avocado trees is because they’re so much cheaper.
If I only have space for one avocado tree, could I graft several varieties to this one tree, or is this not recommended? I live in southern CA zone 10b near Los Angeles.
Yes, you can definitely graft several varieties onto one tree. However, the main challenge is that different varieties grow at different rates so you have to prune in order to make sure that one (or more) don’t take over and shade out the other(s).
I’ve got a Fuerte tree that I’ve grafted a couple Pinkerton and Lamb branches into, but this situation is easier because I want those Pinkerton and Lamb branches to stay small and just provide pollen for the Fuerte; I’m not trying to have each variety take up about a third of the canopy area.
Still, what most people prefer to do is plant multiple trees close together, even in one hole. It’s just easier to maintain over the long haul.
Hi Greg, I will be planting two avocado trees in the spring. I’m leaning towards Bacon and Lamb Hass. I live against the mountains in Pasadena so it can get pretty chilly in the winter will these verities do well in my climate? Also my grandfather said growing up in Los Angeles they had Mcarthur avocados, Have you ever heard of them? Thank you for all the great information!
I think Bacon and Lamb are good choices. They should do well for you. I grew up against the same mountains, but out in Glendora, and Bacons do great there. Where I am now (Ramona) gets a little chillier even than there but Lamb does fine in my yard.
I do know MacArthur avocados. I’ve only eaten them once though, a handful of years ago up in Carpinteria. They’re hard to find these days. They are on the bigger side, green-skinned, pear-shaped, and tasty. I’ve read that the original MacArthur tree grew in Monrovia, right along our San Gabriel Mountains.
Hi, i was gifted a Nabal Avocado tree for xmas and before i plant it in the ground, i was wondering what its growing habits are? Vertically? Horizontally? This will help me determine where i will plant it. Thank you.
What a wonderful gift! Can I say in between vertical and horizontal? The Nabal trees I know are not so wide spreading like a Fuerte, and neither are they more upright like a Bacon can be. The Nabals I know are a bit of both, and not small trees if left unpruned.
But it’s good to remember that any tree’s shape can be affected somewhat by what’s growing around it and where it’s getting sun.
Thanks for the articles; I’m finding them to be a wonderful resource.
I just bought a house in Covina, CA, and I’m looking to plant two varieties in the same area (about 10′ apart) once our cold spell is over.
Tree 1: I’m really leaning towards a GEM. At first, I had a Hass in mind, but found out about the GEM and it sounded more like what I was looking for, especially with the columnar growing pattern.
Tree 2: This one has been tough to pin down, and I have come up with a few options based on my research.
Option 1: Reed. Its season should complement the GEM well, and the growing pattern shouldn’t be too intrusive. Taste I’ve read is great. I’ve never had a tree-matured Reed.
Option 2: Sir Prize. Its season should complement the GEM even better, and the growing pattern seems like it’s columnar as well. Type “B” is a plus, but also read that it is not as great of a producer. Taste I’ve read is great. I’ve never had a tree-matured Sir Prize.
Option 3: Lamb Hass, others? Should complement the GEM season. I am really lost on here.
As an aside, I recently spent a long weekend in Ramona, beautiful area. Contemplated stopping by Fallbrook and talking to a grower, but returning on Sunday meant I was a bit eager to get home.
Your insight is appreciated.
Congratulations on your house in Covina. I grew up in the San Gabriel Valley. You must love seeing snow on Baldy right now.
This is a tough call. With GEM as tree 1, you would find that Sir Prize’s harvest season is earlier whereas Reed and Lamb are later. I’d probably have to give the edge to Sir Prize because I’d rather have the most complementary harvest seasons in order to have fruit to eat more of the year. You could eat Sir Prize fruits starting pretty early in winter, and then you could let the GEMs hang late and eat them even through summer — maybe into fall except that Covina gets hot, so maybe not. You’d likely still have a window with no fruit, or no great fruit, sometime in fall.
By the way, all of these varieties — Reed, Lamb, GEM, Sir Prize — taste really good so I wouldn’t choose one over the other because of taste.
Temecula gardener here. I really, really appreciate this article. My head was spinning, trying to develop the “perfect” avocado plan for my hillside. You saved my sanity! I will be planting your suggested trio this spring.
Awesome, Rachael! I wrote this post with someone just like you in mind. You are going to be in avocado heaven soon.
Thanks for the input, and it’s really along the lines that I was looking down. One thing I didn’t consider was the price of avocados during the months where I would likely have to buy. Averages are higher in the winter, when I would be at a shortage if I were to get a Reed. So even though I had anticipated buying for a few months, it seems that the winter avocado is more expensive, historically. Also, this winter had me buying avocado from Mexico, which is either small and cheaper, or XL and pricey.
Will likely be going with a Sir Prize based on that fact, but Eli at Subtropica has all available, it’s just so tempting to get all three and just try to plant the reed on the other side of the property.
As for the snow, we have had quite a bit of ice the last few weeks, and today it snowed in parts of the mountains, even in the valley (Pasadena/Rancho Cucamonga)! I hope you didn’t get snow where you are, because a few weeks ago when I was there, it was COLD and rainy.
Thanks again for the support!
Just wanted to give a little update:
I went to Fallbrook and paid Eli a visit, and I came back with a Reed, a Sirprize, and a GEM. Eli mentions that he’s swamped with GEM orders, and that he had to save one for me since I contacted him in February because he’s completely out of GEM right now. This weekend, I’m going to be using your tips for planting an avocado so I can put mine in the ground. I hope that in a few years I can have more avocado than I can eat!
Wish me luck!
Thanks so much for this update. I wish you luck with the planting — this is a perfect time for it. You’ve got a great combination of avocado trees there. Just to imagine your future for a second: You’ll be eating SirPrize avocados around now in March, then you’ll switch over to GEM sometime around late spring, then you’ll end the summer and head into fall with Reeds; oh, here comes the next crop of SirPrize fruit starting to blacken its skin and tell you that it’s time to pick. Guacamole heaven!
Hi Greg, your posts are so helpful! I’m in a hot area of Bay Area northern Ca. I have a hilly area for my trees and it’s not practical for ladders, so I’m looking to plant avocado trees that are easier to pick, great tasting, high yielding and can hang for some time on the tree (ideally). Would you recommend Carmen Hass and GEM? I also started hearing about a lunchbox avocado that is being developed for high density planting.
Ps. I already have lamb, fuerte, Mexicola, Pinkerton, Reed, wurtz, Sir prize.
You’ve already got some great varieties growing there. Carmen and GEM are definitely both worth adding to your collection in terms of being great tasting, high yielding, and having good hang time. If either gets too tall for your picking needs, just give it a haircut!
Any new varieties being developed by Mary Lu Arpaia’s breeding program at UC Riverside take decades before they’re released to be propagated and sold to the public. So a small “Lunchbox” avocado becoming available soon is not likely, as far as I can tell. But Mexicola is about as small as avocados come, so in that way you’ve already got your lunchbox avocado. And if it’s a tiny tree you’re after, then it doesn’t get much smaller than Holiday (XX3). You could try one of those.
I have learned so much from your website, Thank You. I would like a dwarf variety to keep in a large pot on a deck about 4 miles from the San Diego Coast. I am less concerned about the fruiting period but a good tasting avocado and a tree that will look presentable in a public area. I understand that Wurtz, Holiday, Pinkerton and Gem are my options. Could you make a suggestion and where I may obtain that tree. Thank you so much. Anne
Thanks for your feedback. This is an interesting set of parameters.
I would eliminate the Wertz on the basis of the others tasting better. Then I would eliminate the Holiday on the basis of its lower production in comparison to Pinkerton and GEM. Then I would give the slight nod to GEM due to the likelihood that the tree in general will look prettier.
GEM trees are a bit hard to come by, unfortunately. See my post on “Where to buy an avocado tree”, and contact Subtropica Nurseries to inquire there. You might have to wait a bit before one is available.
On the other hand, I doubt you’d be disappointed with Pinkerton, which is widely available. And if you don’t care about getting lots of fruit, then Holiday is a fine choice; it also naturally grows more like a shrub, which might look appropriate in a pot.
Thanks for your super helpful website! As your commenter mentioned above, this list might not be optimal for those of us in slightly cooler areas. I’m in Van Nuys, which is Sunset Zone 18. We’ve got room for one, or maybe 2, avocados. Would you still recommend a Hass and Reed for us?
Thank you! I’m guessing you’re referring to Van Nuys as being slightly cooler in winter (compared to spots closer to the beach). I would still choose Hass as my single tree in Van Nuys, and Reed should do well there too.
I wish I knew your yard in particular because there are always various microclimates within Sunset Zones and city limits, but unless you’ve got an unusually low and cold spot then these varieties should do fine. You’ll just want to be prepared to protect them in cold snaps during their first winter or two. I have to do that with my avocados here in Sunset Zone 20 too.
I have seen, in person, happy Hass and/or Reed trees in other parts of Southern California considered Sunset Zone 18, such as Rancho Cucamonga, Corona, and Redlands.
Terrific! Thanks! We got a Hass today, and we’re planning to plant it tomorrow in the sunniest spot in our yard, which usually stays pretty warm, even when it’s chilly.
I read through your post on protecting avocados from the cold, so we’ll be prepared for the cold nights next winter. In the meantime, we’ll work on protecting it from sunburn when it hits 100 F or 110 F in a few months!
I’ve been binge-reading your site after finding it yesterday. THANK YOU for sharing such a wealth of information!
Based on other research, I’d been drawn to trying a GEM avocado tree here in NoCal on the coast (near Ft. Bragg and Mendocino). We are Sunset zone 17. We do occasionally get into the mid-20’s F in the winter, but it rarely reaches 70F in the summer. We do not have a lot of wind problems where we are located, either.
We don’t need a shade tree (probably that was obvious….), and are interested in dwarf avocados outside that have a chance of bearing here. We do have a small green house, but it’s not really large enough for an avocado tree of any size unless we leave it in a pot, which would limit its productivity. Eventually we could put up a larger greenhouse, but I’m hoping that we can proceed without having to do that.
Do you agree that GEM would be a good choice? Would you have other variety suggestions as well?
Would appreciate any information that you might wish to share!
Thanks for writing. Your area is definitely on the cool side, but actually not too much cooler than ideal for avocados in terms of high temperatures. Avocados love it just above 70. They grow far better in the mild temperatures near the beach than they do in my yard which is twenty miles from the ocean.
Perhaps if you’re willing to protect your tree during occasional cold spells in winter, especially during the first couple winters, you’ll have success. I would think that arctic blasts during winter will be your main limiting factor. But I’m guessing.
I’ve visited avocado trees only as far north as the Bay Area. I’ve driven through Mendocino and farther north many times, but haven’t seen bearing avocados growing up there with my own two eyes. So I’m only guessing here.
GEM could do well for you, as could just about any other variety. I would stick to A types though. B types might not open many flowers as female in your cool spring conditions. I can go into the reasons for this if you’re interested.
Other A-type avocados that are naturally on the relatively small side and produce well and are good eating include: Pinkerton, Lamb, Reed, and Gwen.
You can always try a Hass too, and just prune it to the size you want. Hass grow and produce great in other cool summer climates farther south, such as near Morro Bay. See my post, “Can you grow an avocado in a small yard?”
I’ve enjoyed reading your posts as I consider my Avocado plant. Thank you for sharing your knowledge freely and generously.
I saw that you have a Gwen and was curious what your take is on that. I read a few older stories about it that led me to believe it’s a great fit for a small yard in the Downtown LA area and that it’s fruit are amongst the best tasting – even better than Hass.
At the same time I have not been able to taste one and am surprised at how difficult it has been to find, so I wonder how accurate those old articles are, what downsides it might have that have made it less popular over time.
What’s your take on planting it as the only Avocado tree in my yard?
That’s a good question. It’s a challenge to choose a single avocado variety to plant.
My Gwen is only a couple years old now so I hesitate to say a lot about it since my firsthand knowledge is limited at this point. But I will say that it is definitely precocious in my yard. It has set more fruit while young than most of my other varieties. This is the experience of many others as well. On the other hand, I have read of some Gwen trees that don’t set fruit well without a pollenizer tree nearby. (I have numerous other avocado trees near my Gwen.) So is it a good candidate for a lone tree? Maybe not the best.
Read more here: http://www.avocadosource.com/CAS_Yearbooks/CAS_72_1988/CAS_1988_PG_195-207.pdf
I’ve never heard of anyone who is unsatisfied by Gwen’s eating qualities, and there aren’t many avocado varieties that achieve such distinction. You might be able to find a Gwen to taste at a farmers market somewhere nearby around now and through summer.
Gwen’s downfall as a commercial variety was primarily its green skin; it doesn’t turn black as it ripens like Hass. And Gwen was developed just as Hass became king of the world avocado industry and growers and consumers alike began preferring black-skinned avocados.
As for why Gwen hasn’t become a more popular backyard avocado tree in Southern California, I don’t know. It may have something to do with the Gwen tree being a bit wimpy during extreme weather compared to some other avocado varieties. Gwen has sensitivity to dry soil and heat. Others have noted this since the early days growing Gwen, and I have also noticed it in my tree. Gwen isn’t the toughest of my avocado trees, for sure. For your milder location though, this might not be important.
Thought you and others might be interested in knowing that Gwen avocados are currently available at Eli’s Farmstand in Fallbrook. (This is June 22, 2019.) Eli also sells his avocados at farmers markets, and the one closest to you is in Corona Del Mar. I know that’s not down the street, but . . .
See his website for details: https://www.elisfarms.com/farmers-markets
Hi Greg. Thanks again for all the information. It makes me more confident that I can keep an avocado alive and healthy enough to bear fruit someday. As I mentioned in a different post I have a Fuerte and a Hass here in temecula, I’ve been thinking of putting in a third to open the possibility of year round avocados. According to your post and other things I’ve read a Reed would be a good choice but, then I started looking at Sharwil and the descriptions of the flavor sounds amazing. When I looked up the harvest time, it looks similar to a Reed. It stops a month earlier than a Reed but the Fuerte starts up the next month. What do think of a Reed vs. Sharwil in temecula where it can both get too hot and too cold some avocados?
Your climate in Temecula is similar to mine in Ramona: a bit hot in summer; a bit cold in winter . . . for avocados. As far as Reed vs. Sharwil for this type of climate, I’d tentatively give the edge to Reed. My Reed, as well as those I know nearby, does relatively well. Same for my Sharwil and the Sharwils I know nearby, except that I’m not sure they’ll produce quite as much as Reed. It seems that Reed has the advantage in terms of fruit production. This might be different for you though; it probably depends on your particular microclimate.
In terms of the harvest season complementing your Hass and Fuerte, advantage probably goes to Reed here also. Sharwil’s harvest season — compared to Reed — will likely be more similar to Hass at your location. That being said, I have eaten excellent Sharwils from the De Luz area as late as October. So if you’re toward that side of Temecula, you might get Sharwils to hang on the tree a long time compared to the eastern side of Temecula. Truth is, you’ll probably be happy with either a Reed or a Sharwil in every way.
We’re getting a couple of avocado trees to plant in Pasadena. I’ve got a small Reed already picked out, since I really love the flavor. I’ve found a Gem and a Carmen Hass semi-locally and am torn about which to plant! What would you recommend?
You sure you can’t do both?! Oh well.
GEM and Carmen will both satisfy you, I’m sure of it. They’re both great varieties, and good complementary trees for a Reed.
The main difference is that GEM is a smaller tree, if that matters to you. If it doesn’t, then I can’t think of a downside to either GEM or Carmen that would give the other a significant edge.
Thanks Greg! Oh I wish! They’re for my parents and they’re concerned about consuming yield from two trees, but maybe after a few years, they’ll be up for another! I can’t imagine between them, my brother and I, that it will be a problem, lol.
Yes, that’s my thought and what I suspected you might think as well! Maybe I should just roll the dice! Haha
They have plenty of space, but I’m leaning towards the GEM, since it’s so easy to get a hold of Hass at the markets.
Thanks so much for all the info and experience you provide! I appreciate all the documentation! It’s super helpful for us newbies 🙂
I live in the Hilltop area of Chula Vista, the temps rarely get above 85 or below 40.We had a Gwen avocado tree that was very productive for many years. About five years ago it started to get bad infestations of mites, it then started to get cancors on the large branches and trunk that had a white powder around the edges. The tree eventually began to die, when I cut it down the center of the large branches were black. What could have caused this issue ?
We also have a Cate Macadamia tree in the backyard which is doing excellent.
I have a friend who lives in your area: nice place to grow avocados. Check the photos and descriptions of cankers and discoloration on avocados at this UC IPM page, and maybe one will fit your Gwen: http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/C008/m008bpcanker.html
Sorry to hear about the decline of such a wonderful tree.
Thank you for your reply, After doing some research and asking question in my neighborhood the last couple of days, I found out that I’m not the only one with this problem. Both ornamental and fruit trees are being affected, Its only about 8 miles to the Tijuana River valley from here which I’m told is having a serious problem with shot hole borers, hope I’m wrong but that may be the problem. All the wood from the Gwen is going to the beach soon as possible for a bonfire. Replaced with a Reed which is doing great so far.
Shot hole borers being involved didn’t even occur to me, but now that you mention it that seems like a definite possibility. As I recall, the Tijuana River valley is where they were first noticed some years back. Best of luck with the Reed.
Thank you! So much amazing information here – you’re helping me gain confidence in my dream of planting an avocado tree in our backyard. I’m torn though… We have a small space with good sunlight and drainage in our yard that is probably 12′ x 12′ for this tree. I read your articles about pruning and also about hass being a great choice for a single tree. I could do that! I’m also wondering if I might be happier going with a pair of smaller trees that let me enjoy avocados closer to year-round. I read about GEM, and it sounds like it would fit easily in our space and produce great fruit. Is there another tree of comparable size that complements the GEM in season that could happily share this space? We live in Carlsbad, CA, which I believe is sunset zone 24. Any suggestions would be much appreciated please! Thank you!
Thanks for the feedback. GEM with a friend is a great idea. Before I get to that, do know that if you live within a mile or two of the beach in Carlsbad, you can get nearly year-round fruit from a Hass tree because of the mild summer temperatures: by the time one season’s fruit is overmature and tasting too oily, it’s almost time to pick the next season’s fruit. Hass is amazing in this way.
A good companion for GEM in your allotted space of 12′ by 12′ might be Pinkerton or Sir-Prize to get fruit in winter before GEM is ready to pick in spring; or Reed or Lamb to get fruit in summer into fall after the GEM harvest is done. (GEM’s harvest season is basically spring into summer.) Those varieties would also probably not be extremely vigorous compared to the GEM such that pruning wouldn’t be such a challenge.
A couple other options might be Fuerte and Bacon. The problem with Fuerte is that it tends to grow horizontally so you’d have to be vigilant about training it up a stake and pruning as necessary. Bacon grows somewhat vertically, but it is likely to grow faster than the GEM. Both Bacon and Fuerte will be ready to pick in winter, before GEM. Most people think Fuerte tastes better, but Bacon is a nice milder, sweeter avocado for the winter.
No matter your choice, I’m excited for you to get a tree or a couple going in your yard. Carlsbad is an awesome place to grow avocados.
Greg, you’re awesome! Thank you so much for the great articles, and for your personal attention and replies. It means a lot to me! You have me sold on the year-round Hass prospect. I’m going for it! I’ll be back to study more and update you with my progress. Thank you!!
June of 2018
I did a Sharwill, Sirprize and Gem…that’s a B – B and an A, planted them 42 inches apart.
Elevated a 12 foot circle 8 inches with landscape stones and filled with wood chips.
The trees were 15 gal and difficult to keep hydrated the first summer(you forget all the roots are contained in the pot size)
June of this year I topped them at 8 feet, The Gem is still at 8 feet but the other two want to grow to the moon.
The Gem is covered with avos, the other two have about 5 or six each.
I’m ruthless with pruning shears (you have to be)
You’re welcome to check out Piet Stassen and his pruning technique displayed at UC Irvine
That sounds like a nice combination of trees, and it sounds like they’re growing very well. Isn’t Sharwil a vigorous variety! I grafted some Sharwils here and there in the spring, and they’ve grown more than any other variety I grafted this year (including Fuerte, which people often talk of as being so vigorous).
I’m familiar with Stassen’s style of pruning and training young avocado trees to a central leader. It is an effective way to manage closely planted trees. I’ve done it with some of my trees; with others I allow low branching, multiple leaders, and more of a globe shape overall.
I am curious what your recommendation and thoughts are for year around great tasting avocados from my backyard in Tustin. I have a Hass that is a few years old from Durling Nursery. I also purchased a Sharwill and Green Gold from Atkins Nursery last year, but they aren’t the best trees as they were burned pretty bad from last summer’s heat wave. I am a huge fan of Hawaiian varieties and I am highly considering grafting Kahalu’u to one of the trees. Also I was thinking of grafting Lamb Hass onto the Hass so I can extend that season. I am trying to get a good combination of A & B type and have avocados throughout the year. I don’t have extensive room for so many trees through which is why I want to graft (actually its that my wife will kill me if I try to plant more than 3 avocado trees). Maybe you would say Reed or Fuerte to graft instead of Lamb? Or maybe scratch all those and go with GEM or Gwen? I am curious to hear your thoughts on these varieties or think something else would be better suited. Thank you and thank you for all the information you have shared on your site!! It is very helpful!
This is such a good topic that it deserves the space of a full post. I’ll write it within the next couple weeks and title it something like “Avocado varieties for year-round fruit.”
Until then, let me say that every one of the varieties you mentioned has great tasting fruit (except that I’ve never eaten Green Gold so can’t comment with experience on that one). The challenge is that many of them have similar harvest seasons, which are spring into summer: Hass, Sharwil, GEM, Gwen. You ought to add either Lamb or Reed for avocados to be eaten in summer into fall, yes; your grafting idea there is a good one. Then you’ll still be lacking in winter. Only Fuerte tastes good then, of those you’ve mentioned.
I’ll suggest other varieties and give lots of reasons and scenarios in the upcoming post. I hope I can answer all of your questions on this topic there. It’s one that I have thought a lot about, read a lot about, still wrestle with, but have some good experience to share.
Thanks for the response. I have been trying to research this for a while now trying to figure out the best combination for me. I have a spreadsheet of many varieties and their seasons and how they all align based on flower type. I would be happy to share with you if you are interested. One of the challenging things is actually figuring out the season for each time and what that season is for those varieties in the location it is planted. Especially since I have a big interest in Hawaiian varieties it is difficult to know what the season will be in OC. So I have got as close as I can while understanding that the season is going to be affected by many other things anyway. But the intention is to have overlapping seasons for both A and B type so there is always cross pollination available (I know that doesn’t guarantee it will work, but I like the idea of having that potential). I am jealous you are growing all those Hawaiian varieties and am interested in what you have to say about taste once that time comes and how the trees are doing. Also, what are your thoughts on a multi-variety grafted tree? I see the UC grafting resource you posted, but I am curious how to select varieties that would be well suited for grafting to the same tree. One thought would be to graft an A and a B to the same tree with similar seasons for cross pollination. And one concern would be pairing a vigorous upright variety with a slow spreading variety. Obviously the tree would look very weird, but would likely be weak or want to fall to one side or maybe the vigorous variety would pull more nutrients and starve the less vigorous variety. I have many thoughts on this topic, but don’t have the experience so I am curious to get your thoughts on this! Thanks again!
It is so hard to know when a variety will taste good coming from a tree in your yard based on the information of others, I totally agree. I even made a chart a few years ago showing the harvest seasons of some varieties (in my post “When to pick avocados”), but I’m not perfectly comfortable with it because every year is different and every yard is different, even within a small geographical area like a single county let alone all of Southern California.
It will be a few years before I can say much about most of the Hawaiian varieties I am growing. They’re really small. But I’ll definitely write profiles of them when I feel like I know them well enough.
Multi-grafted avocado trees can work. I made one for my mom in her backyard about six years ago and it’s doing well. It even has an upright variety (seedling actually) with a spreading variety (Fuerte), and it still works. You just have to do a little pruning to make sure they share sunlight and space. And you’re right about the tree looking weird, but it works.
Because I’ve become more and more concerned about getting production from my trees since I can’t afford the water otherwise, I’ve been moving toward A types in general since they produce better in my yard. But there are a lot of B types whose fruit I love so I’m starting to keep my B types smaller or graft them into A types and eliminate their whole trees. This way I still have the varieties (and I hope I get as much fruit as possible from them) but I’m not wasting space and water on a lot of unproductive foliage.
For my Fuerte, for instance, I’ve grafted in a couple of branches of A types. One I chose was Pinkerton, and I chose it because I knew very well that its bloom always overlapped with Fuerte since I have trees of both in my yard. But where to find this information otherwise? It’s nearly impossible, unfortunately.
I have records of the bloom seasons of all of my trees, and I’d be happy to share about specific varieties. The only published information about the bloom seasons of avocado varieties that I know of is about common commercial varieties.
We have acreage “The Land” located above Hilo, Hawaii, at 800 foot elevation. We’re planting literally thousands of sharwil avocados in 30 gallon “root pouches”, mostly above ground. We will sell trees at various ages and transport to other islands. We will also compliment with other varieties to have ripe fruit all year, (varieties including malama, yamagata, ota, murashiga, kahalu’u, fujikawa), for value added products. We made and wholesaled guacamole on Kauai, Hawaii for 10 years.
The mainland now accepts for resale, sharwil avocados, given the need for a great tasting avocado in winter. The fruit must be of good size. Small fruit will be used for value added product. The fruit fly is not a threat to the green hard skin of the sharwil. We’re planting a minimum of 5000 trees using a “high density” planting design and will foliage spray. This is how I got to this blog, but I never found any mention of “high density”. I’m considering a 6′ X 10′ planting.
We are also planting 14 varieties of “guaranteed” dwarf coconut trees for seed to grow future dwarf coconut seed farms on all islands.
“Guaranteed” meaning: We have grown trees in areas away from tall trees, so not to be pollinated by them.
Oh!, and do I ever miss a good fuerte which I used to sell off a fruit truck next to Golden Gate Park in SF in the 70’s.
And, green gold, very prolific, and a good pollinator. And the sharwil does not have the “nutty” notes like the hass.
Thanks for these contributions. I don’t usually talk about high density because it’s a term that commercial growers use whereas my website is oriented toward home gardeners.
Incidentally, similar spacings can often be used in a yard as on a farm. For example, I’ve got some avocado trees planted at 7.5 feet apart, and that’s a spacing that some commercial growers use. Spacing six feet apart with ten feet between rows is very workable, depending on a few factors. I don’t know the growing habits of avocados generally in Hawaii compared to California. Variety makes a difference. The equipment you need to move between rows to do your spraying will have to be accommodated. And then there’s your commitment to pruning.
I’ll be visiting a mature high-density planting in a couple weeks and I’ll pass along anything new that I observe, but the main long-term challenge for most growers with this style is keeping on top of the pruning. I’ve seen high-density plantings get crowded after the first few years and then the yield is reduced and the grove is impenetrable jungle.
I’ve never eaten Green Gold. I’d like to try out that variety. Do you like its eating qualities about as well as Sharwil?
Green gold can not compete with shawil but makes good quac.
Anything you can pass my way will be appreciated. Thanks
Will do. It will be in the first week of October.
By the way, I have a few other Hawaiian varieties growing that I’ve never tasted and am wondering if you’d recommend giving any of them more or less attention and space: Murashige, Malama, Nishikawa, Kahalu’u? Actually, I have tasted someone else’s Kahalu’u fruit that was grown in California so I can use that for reference in comparing to the others.
How did the kahalu’u taste? I would love to grow one or graft a branch onto a tree I have after researching about how great the fruit tastes.
I hesitate to even talk about the taste of Kahaluu since I’ve only eaten one. I have no idea if it was a great one or a terrible one. So keep that in mind. But at least it was grown in Southern California.
I ate it on April 26, 2018, and my notes say that the Kahaluu avocado skin had thrips scarring, was about as large as a Reed but with more of a pear shape, did not peel easily, flesh was very easy to spoon out though. Seemed very mature, almost overmature, as the seed had germinated and the root was touching the peel on the bottom, and the seedcoat did not adhere to the seed. The texture and taste were very very good, top notch, with only a couple of very minor fibers. The flesh had nice color, tasted rich and smooth. The only real negative was that the seedcoat didn’t adhere to the seed. I concluded that it was worth growing. My son, who ate it with me, called it “the bestest avocado ever.” (Though only a kindergartener, he has eaten his share of avocado varieties and actually has an opinion worth listening to!)
About high-density avocado plantings: I visited a grove that has been doing it for decades and they’ve found that the spacing that works in the long run depends on the variety.
For example, they had Hass planted at 10 feet by 10 feet in 2004, but just topworked that block this spring, 15 years later, because it had become too costly to manage. They had to prune three times per year, and still the production had declined since year nine. The grove manager said he prefers Hass at no closer than 12 feet.
On the other hand, he plants GEM at 10 feet because it is less vigorous than Hass.
If you’re planting trees at six feet apart, you might find it necessary to remove every other tree after a handful of years.
Thanks for the feedback on Holiday. I moved mine into a barrel. Should be interesting to see how it works out. I realize it can’t live forever there but at least I will get to try the fruit someday.
I wanted to say I appreciate all you do with your website and videos. After watching your wonderful Fuerte tree video I was inspired and replaced my young Ettinger for the real thing besides Fuerte might be my personal favorite flavor probably because I remember the taste of Fuerte guacamole as a kid. (I fear the size they grow but now that I have experience I realize that avocados are easy to prune and bounce back.)
I was also able to confirm that a huge tree in Napa which got me growing my own avocados was indeed a Puebla because of your video. All these years I couldn’t figure what it was. In fact the tree might be a hundred years old and is easily 60 feet tall or larger.
I also planted a Queen avocado tree in the spot where the Holiday was.
Great to hear all of this. I wish I could visit that old Puebla. I love old trees like that. There are likewise some very old Puebla-type trees where I grew up that I always drive by to check on when I’m in the neighborhood. Sadly, there are fewer and fewer every year. But a number of old Fuertes remain, and like for you, the taste of Fuerte remains the original avocado flavor for me. As good as some other avocados are, nothing pleases me quite as much as eating a high quality Fuerte.
Hey Greg, I’ve got two Hass and one Fuerte. I’m planning on planting a Reed. One of my Hass is still a baby, so I was considering taking it out and putting the Reed in its place. What do you think, is it overkill to have two Hass trees?
That’s a cool question. The answer depends on a few things.
One, how well does your Fuerte produce? If you have a very productive Fuerte, then you won’t start eating much of your Hass fruit until probably mid to late spring. And then if you’ve got a productive Reed (which are always productive, actually), whose fruit you’ll want to start eating in summer, then you’ll only need your Hass fruit to last around three or four months (late spring to early summer). In that case, one Hass tree might suffice.
Two, how many people are you feeding? I’ve got more than one Hass tree planted (although only one is full grown) in part because my family of five is all avocado lovers, plus I love sharing with friends, neighbors, and extended family, and everyone loves the familiar Hass.
Three, how big will you let the Hass trees get? A single, 25-foot Hass tree will give you a few hundred avocados in a good year, but a tree kept pruned to 10 or 15 feet would give you fewer. My 15-foot Hass averages roughly 100 avocados per year, and I’ve found that we need more than that during the Hass season.
Finally, I’ll say that if I had to have two avocado trees of any one variety, it would definitely be Hass.
Hello- Love your site- what a treasure trove! I live in Santa Barbara, CA just less than a mile from the ocean. We have tried to plant Hass avocados about four times and despite every best effort with location change in the yard and switching up irrigation they all eventually turned black on the trunk, browned leaf tips, and given up, to our dismay. We just planted our fifth haas (never say die) but when we popped it out of the pot it had white minerals all on the roots and already has a black ominous patch on the trunk- just from being watered on our deck from the hose for several months.
Our water on the Mesa is exceptionally hard, and I’m wondering if perhaps we should try a Lamb or Reed instead, or how salt tolerant a Fuerte is? We also now have rain tanks and are going to try and save our rain water for the avo, as the other fruit trees do well with our water. Thank you!
I hate to hear how many avocado trees haven’t thrived for you, but it’s great that you haven’t given up. We should be able to figure out how to make one work.
Do you have any neighbors with avocado trees in their yard? There are so many in the Santa Barbara area. You might try to ask someone nearby about the water they use, especially on a young tree (older trees are tougher).
I would recommend buying a new and healthy tree within the next month and planting it straight away — no keeping it for months on your deck first. It’s usually easier to grow an avocado tree in the ground than to keep one healthy in a container.
Black on trunk and brown leaves suggest sunburn and lack of water. Get a tree from the nursery that looks perfect, get it into the ground right away, and follow the advice in my post about watering new avocado trees: https://gregalder.com/yardposts/how-to-water-a-newly-planted-avocado-tree/
Also, be sure you’ve assessed the drainage of your soil before planting, and consider planting on a mound if necessary: https://gregalder.com/yardposts/how-to-plant-and-stake-an-avocado-tree/
You could try a different variety, but I doubt that would significantly change your results. All avocado varieties need roughly the same care. The salt tolerance of some is not extremely better than others. But yes, Lamb, Reed, and Fuerte all have higher salt tolerance than Hass.
Hi Greg, I live on the California Coast in between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay, were at about 800ft elevation and 1 mile inland from the coast. We have a large greenhouse and I was hoping you could suggest some avocados that might be easier to grow and fruit here? Our greenhouse has 14ft ceilings. We are really hoping we can make it work and would be grateful for any suggestions. Thanks so much in advance
That’s a fun project. My guess is that you can grow just about any variety that does well in Southern California since your greenhouse probably stays warm enough in spring to make B-type varieties set fruit well.
The challenge I’ve heard others in your area having is with occasional cold snaps in winter (taken care of by your greenhouse) and such cool spring weather that B types don’t set much fruit. But I have to emphasize that this is just secondhand information.
Anyway, I’d focus on A types, and with the 14-foot ceiling you could prune any variety to keep its size in check or go with a naturally smaller variety such as Gwen, GEM, Pinkerton, Lamb, or even Reed (these will all ultimately get taller than 14 feet, but not as soon).
I could swear that I read somewhere that Reed trees will get very tall if left unpruned.
You’re right Walter. Maybe I shouldn’t have put Reed in that list, but Reed isn’t as vigorous as some other varieties such as Bacon, Fuerte, or Hass.
It’s me from up North again. I wanted to tell you that it appears that there is a Fuerte/Hass cross in Lafayette which is in the bay but just over the hills and away from the fog.
I have been watching this tree for years since I work in the area, had some fruit once they turned black and they taste exactly like Fuerte! Yet the tree is smaller in that it is an upright instead of a large spreading type, the fruit are small but turn black when ripe (about the size of tiny hass found 8 in a bag), and the tree is a heavy producer (at least it was this time).
The tree is supposedly over 40 and is a seedling with both Fuerte and Hass characteristics yet again the flavor has that tanginess only Fuerte has. I tried it 2 days in row. The second time I tried in on avocado toast and to my surprise it tasted even more like Fuerte.
The owners are nice and said I welcomed to the tree. I am going to try to graft new ones and see if the results are the same as well as see if it fruits every year or every two.
I named the tree Lamorinda after the area it is grown which is name referring to the 3 cities of Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda.
Who knows? We may have an “improved” Fuerte.
What a find. Your description makes the tree and its fruit sound very appealing. Let me know how the grafting and new trees go, and share photos of the cut fruit if you get a chance.
Will do. If you can send me another email address then please do. I couldn’t send the photos here.
Looks like my own graft will take. I also gave some wood to others up here who are much better at grafting in case the tree disappears.
If we are successful. I will send you some wood. I don’t want to overstep my welcome to the tree.
I actually removed my small Fuerte to grow thie Lamorinda because my backyard is tiny and with 5 other avos in the ground I already have more than enough on my plate. Good problems.
The funny thing is that when I have given people some wood I didn’t give them fruit because it is identical to Fuerte so there is no need.
I am curious to see if it will fruit consistently.
On second thought. Let me get things together on my side before I share too much about the Lamorinda tree. Otherwise other avocado nuts (like myself) might annoy the generous owners of the mother tree.
This has happened before when a local avocado grower put a video of a seedling with huge avocados up on YouTube. The elderly couple’s yard suddenly became an internet sensation and these people kept getting surprise visitors in their front yard until they asked people to take videos of their tree off of YouTube and started turning visitors away.
Once budwood is available without using the mother tree I will share more on the Lamorinda.
Thanks for allowing me to announce it here. Wish me luck!
I think you’re absolutely right not to share more about this tree. It’s very disrespectful when people put such videos on YouTube or otherwise share such information online. I saw such a video recently displaying some trees in the front yard of friends of mine down here in San Diego County and it made me very angry.
There’s no rush. If the tree turns out to be a winner in your yard too, then eventually we can all benefit from the discovery. In the meantime, there are heaps of other varieties that are already publicly available to explore.
I completely understand and I agree. I can’t imagine anyone being happy with that situation even if were just a typical commercially variety much less a one of a kind variety without first getting some type of permission.
I was given permission and I will get you some budwood hopefully within a year.
I am not gaining anything just want the world to have another Fuerte variety available to them.
I am familiar with Fuerte’s history and that it grows wide making dense planting difficult and that some years the production is very low. Perhaps the Lamorinda has the answer? We can all hope, can’t we?
I have two Hass and a sir prize, and my next door neighbor has a Big Florida type avocado and a friend down the street has a seed grown reed type with round fruit. But mine trees are still small 3 and 4 feet and last year only had 5 egg size fruit
Hello Greg from Cyprus in Europe! 🙂
Great read! Thanks for all the info, very useful!
I have two questions, if I may…
1) which two varieties would you recommend as being good pairing for quite heavy clay-y soil?! It’s not the worst soil in the world, as many fruit trees as growing nicely here, but which types of Avocado you think would thrive best in these conditions – clay-ish soil, can be quite wet in winter and hot and super dry in the summer? The soil holds water for long though…
2) in the same context, which would be the best pair for Pinkerton tree – Hass, Fuerte or Bacon? (I don’t have any other varieties available in local nurseries, hence the limited choice..). I like the taste of all of them, so would ideally want to pick one for cross-pollination and longest season of Avocados from both!
Many thanks in advance for your help and advice!
It doesn’t matter which variety you plant in clayey soil. You just need to make sure that you plant on a mound. See: https://gregalder.com/yardposts/how-to-plant-and-stake-an-avocado-tree/
Out of those choices, I would go with Fuerte just because it has the most potential for cross-pollination with Pinkerton.
Greg – Another “which 2 trees are best” question. My twist is I want to keep them to 10 – 12 ft high. So, I want versions that handle topping well or are naturally small. I live in So Calif Inland Empire (Norco); hot summers, rarely below 29 – 30 in winter. Trees will be on south facing slope w full sun. I’m leaning toward Gwen or Reed for a fall producer, and Holiday, Pinkerton or Wertz for winter production. Suggestions?
BTW – Thank you for the great info you’ve published. Please keep it up.
Thanks. I was trying to think of any varieties that can’t be kept to 10-12 feet tall, but I’m at a loss. I’ve seen about every variety I know kept to about that height in one yard or farm or another.
About the winter/spring varieties that you mentioned: I don’t know how much heat Wurtz can handle. I haven’t seen it with my own two eyes growing in a location quite as hot as Norco. But I have seen Holiday and Pinkerton. Holiday doesn’t produce great in the heat (or even without heat) compared to Pinkerton. Holiday likes to drop its fruit before it is mature. Pinkerton seems to never drop fruit in the heat. Even when it was 118 back in July 2018 I lost no Pinkerton fruit, and I’ve seen a Pinkerton tree in Redlands that carried a massive crop through that same heat wave. The Pinkerton tree itself gets a bit sunburned and tattered looking but it holds onto its fruit very well, which I’d say is what we most care about.
For the summer/fall varieties, I’m unsure about Gwen. At my place Gwen seems to be doing fine in the heat but it is getting some afternoon shade from a large live oak. On your south-facing slope it might not be as happy. I just can’t say for sure. I haven’t seen any other Gwens growing in exactly those conditions. As for Reed, it can handle the heat fairly well as far as I’ve seen. Like Lamb, it will drop some fruit about now in spring before it’s mature, but you still always end up with a good crop. (Actually, Lamb drops more fruit in spring compared to Reed.)
If I had to choose a pair for your location, I think I’d try the combination of Pinkerton and Gwen or Reed. The only caveat I’d make is that Pinkerton and Gwen both seem to like to have a B-type avocado nearby in order to produce their maximum. (They’ll both produce some without a pollenizer.) So if possible, I would also add a third tree of a B-type flower and keep it small and use it just for the flowers (strip all or most of its fruit each year). Fuerte would work here since its bloom season is long and overlaps well with these two varieties. Plus, I’ve seen in my own yard that Fuerte pollenizes Pinkerton very well: https://youtu.be/xGNTxYU-X50
Greg – love your article and all the discussions. For our San Joaquin Valley home we can get hard freezes so I have a Mexicola Grande since it is off in October before the freeze. Thin skin but good flavor.
We have a central coast house with three citrus trees and was looking for one Avocado tree, I was leaning towards the Sir Prize, with your discussion should I lean towards the Haas as a single tree, or is either a good choice. Thanks, Keith
Would you say these are still your top 3?
Pretty much. Hass and Reed as numbers one and two are solid for me. What I would plant after these is less solid though. I’d probably still go Fuerte.
There’s a little more about my opinions on choosing avocado varieties in this post: https://gregalder.com/yardposts/avocado-varieties-for-year-round-harvest/
I planted a Hass and a Fuerte in a fairly small backyard in the Pt Loma/Sunset cliffs area. Both trees have been prolific. Having grown up in San Diego and having a father who loved Avocados, I was never without. One of his favorites was the Nabal. I found one at a small nursery in south county and planted it in between the 2 existing trees. Over the past 2 weeks sheltering in place, I’m noticing lots of small fruit starting. With all 3 trees with hundreds of bb size to small marble size. Lots of them are dropping everyday, but plenty growing. Is there something I can do to prevent the drop, or is it just survival of the fittest?
I really appreciate reading your expert advice and opinion about your experiences.
Your message is very fun for me to read. You live in a fantastic neighborhood for growing avocados, as you obviously know. I’m jealous. I should still live there, considering my love for avocados. If I didn’t feel the need for lots of space, I would, no doubt. I was there last week visiting a few friends and their avocado trees. I also checked on a huge old Nabal in OB that I used to eat from, and I was pleased to find that the tree is now doing better than last year. And a friend showed me an old tree of an unknown variety that he’d found growing without irrigation near Shelter Island.
Forgive my rambling. Anyway, usually it’s for the best that trees shed some of their fruitlets. When they set a lot like your trees have, they must shed some or else branches will break, get sunburned, even die back from the stress of growing too much fruit. Really, grafted avocado trees can kill themselves by fruiting too much too soon. At best, carrying a super heavy crop load usually means that the following year’s crop will be very light. Fuerte and Nabal are both well known for alternating in this way. So you don’t want to prevent the drop of fruitlets if the set is heavy. And if the tree is small, you might actually need to deliberately remove some of the fruitlets for the tree’s own long-term health.
On the other hand, if a tree doesn’t have a heavy set and you want to try to prevent the few fruitlets that it has set from dropping, the best thing you can do is make sure it doesn’t become stressed from heat or thirst. In your climate, dangerous heat in spring and early summer just doesn’t happen. In my climate (Ramona), we can get heat waves of 100 degrees in May or June while fruitlets are still small and vulnerable. In that case, the tree needs to be kept cool and hydrated as far as possible. In addition to irrigating the tree before the heat hits, watering down the foliage (and fruitlets) during the heat helps.
On June 10 and 11 last year (2019), my yard reached 100 both days. I pre-irrigated and sprayed down the trees during the heat and prevented fruitlet drop too well. My Reed and Lamb trees held onto so much fruit that I later had to remove some by hand in order to prevent branches from breaking.
In Point Loma/Sunset Cliffs, just make sure the trees aren’t stressed from lack of water and you should prevent whatever fruitlet drop is possible to prevent. Some percentage of fruitlet drop always happens, due to incomplete pollination and other unknown factors.
Thank you so much for your response. These are the first trees I have had success with and just don’t want to mess things up. Your input and knowledge definitely helps. I’m more relaxed about it now. I will definitely stay in touch if any other questions arise.
Thank again for your help.
You mentioned stopping to see friends in O B. If ever back this way soon would compensate you gladly to do a quick evaluation of right and wrong approach here. The Nabal is really dropping a lot of yellowing leaves daily and making me nervous about over or under watering or something else I might be causing.
Two months ago my Nabal (in SoCal) was also developing a lot of yellow leaves with brown veins, and falling off. I fertilized more, watered less, and now it’s in perfect shape. Finally picking a bunch of softball-sized, very tasty fruits.
maybe you missed my question on May 2, 2020 or I missed your reply, with 3 citrus trees and room for one avocado on the central coast of California, Cayucos.
Was looking at Sir Prize, your article leans toward Haas, stay with Haas? or either OK?
So sorry to have somehow missed your earlier comment. Because Cayucos is so cool, I’d stay away from B type avocados in general, including Sir-Prize. Most of them don’t usually produce as well in such climates as A types. They grow great but just don’t produce as much fruit.
Hass does really well in cool climates. Lots of great Hass are grown in nearby Morro Bay. I would plant a Hass if I were you.
Thank you so much for the advice!
This is a very informative blog. Thanks for all the resources. I’m still fairly new to farming and have a ~280 Hass grove (Fuerte rootstock) in inland San Diego (Ramona), so I am always fascinated with learning about these trees. Just got some bee hives in this year and a decent fruit set, just hope the heat stays mild this summer. Lots of dieback when it reached 117F for 3 days.
Thanks! In case you didn’t know, I’m also in Ramona. And I also hope for mild heat this summer! Here is how some of my trees looked after that record heat of July 2018: https://youtu.be/Umm_WOoGERo
I just want to say your posts and YouTube profile videos have been an amazing tool for me!
I live in Sunland, CA, in a very sunny area where the sun is strong all day.
Following your advice, I have planted 5 Hass trees, 1 Fuerte, 1 Reed, and 1 Sir prize. I have two questions for you:
1. Sun exposure. I know avocados love full sun but I’m my area the sun really is strong. We had a hass 4 years back that sun burned to death. This time around I have white washed all my young trees and have placed a shade cover around my Fuerte, which apparently doesn’t do well I’m the heat. Do you suggest shade clothes for all my trees (about 4 feet tall, 15 gal), or will it stunt growth too much? Is the white wash enough? Will the new leaves burn? I have a 60% shade cloth for my Fuerte.
I see a lot of posts about cold tolerant avocado trees, how about heat tolerant (besides reed)?
Good questions, all. But first let me say thank you.
I know Sunland, and I can empathize with how you and your avocados feel. I’m in Ramona, which calls itself the Valley of the Sun, and it’s not too different here. It’s great for grapes and pomegranates, harsh for avocados.
Some answers to these questions can be found here:
Sixty percent shade cloth over the trees can work as long as it’s only over the top (not wrapping the entire tree) and more than a few inches higher than the tree (not almost touching the top leaves). Wrapping the trees creates an oven. And such dense shade cloth (60%) right above the trees for the whole summer would be too much shade and would reduce growth. I’d use less dense shade cloth or raise the shade cloth. I’ve found that 30% shade cloth over the top of young trees is enough unless it’s over about 105 degrees.
As for heat-tolerant avocado varieties, I wrote a post about that some years back and I’ll be updating it soon: https://gregalder.com/yardposts/heat-tolerance-of-avocado-varieties/
Buddy, you’re the best. My trees are young now, but I’m a few years I will ask for your location and send you a barrel of all my varieties. Thanks for the detail and everything you do.
I hope your trees grow lightning fast! You’re very welcome.
It’s been since May since I communicated with you. The trees are doing spectacularly, especially the Nabal with 18 almost baseball size avocados on it. The Hass has a ton and the Fuerte as well. My question is how do you recommend getting rid of the persea mite? The Hass has a lot on it and both the other trees have some as well. I have read about predator mites to purchase but not sure how to apply them. Is there a simpler way. Thanks Greg. It’s been a great summer in OB/Pt Loma. Denny
Great to hear! But not about the persea mites. They seem to be especially common on trees in your neighborhood. The good news is that I know trees there that have had them for years, have never been treated for them, and the trees still produce well. The foliage just doesn’t look very pretty close up.
A couple of practices to consider from the UC IPM page: “Excess fertilization, especially with quick-release formulations, may increase persea mite numbers and damage during late spring and summer due to increased foliar nitrogen. Spraying the underside of leaves with a forceful stream of water can reduce mite presence on a few small trees where this is feasible.”
The worst infestations I’ve seen have been on highly fertilized trees.
You might try spraying the undersides of foliage every week or so for a period in spring and/or summer to see if it makes a difference. Mites like a dusty leaf surface.
Yes, there is nothing like finding those 100 year old avocado trees. If you ever go wine tasting up here, the huge Puebla and another large tree which sounded like a Zutano but it could be some other old variety they are at Farella Vineyard in Napa. Maybe one day you will see it.
Thank you for your response and info. I sprayed today and will keep it up. I guess the mites are too small to interest Ladybugs. I’ll try some beneficial predator mites next.
Great article, I’m planting a reed, hass and fuerte. I have to plant them in a line of north to south. Which order would you recommend from the equator to the pole? I live on the southern hemisphere so can you please take this into account.
North-south orientation works well since morning and afternoon sun will hit all trees almost equally. In the Southern Hemisphere, I would arrange them with Reed toward the equator (on the north end) since it is slightly less vigorous and it will get extra sun in fall-winter-spring, Fuerte in the middle since it has a B-type flower and will enhance the fruitfulness of the adjacent A types, and Hass on the south end.
Thank you for your article.
I am from Nice (France, Europe), and I would like to plant two avocado trees in my garden.
Our climate is supposed to be similar to South California (I have never been to California though))), we have no frosts, summers are a little more humid than in California. I think, my garden is in the 10a zone. Unfortunately, people here seldom grow avocados, it is just not in our culture – which is strange, because people do eat avocados a lot, and you find them in every supermarket. Nevertheless, a friend of mine has got a very young avocado tree in her garden (grown from a seed, probably a Hass seed), which gave it first fruits this summer.
Also, there is nothing written about growing avocados in France. However, I did a lot of research, and read dozens of artciles in English, mostly about growing avocados in the US and all the different varieties (when it come to planting something new, I pay a lot of attention to the variety choice)
It’s just hard to start growing a tree that you:
– don’t know how to grow in your region,
– I have never tasted anything but supermarket Hass from distant lands…… so all I can do is read or watch videos of people describing how each variety tastes like.
– impossible (or almost impossible) to ship American varieties from the US to Europe.
– while studying all this, it really feels like I am from another planet)))))): temperatures are in Fahrenheit, not in Celsius, you have feet, not meters. That’s said, I learnt a lot)))
At first I wanted to plant a Hass(A-type) and a Fuerte (B-type), because some people said they pollinise well each other (I read several articles about avocado pollination, though I still don’t understant how an A-variety can complement a B-variety, if they do not flower during the same months?! It just does not seem logical) But later I read, that often Fuerte is not a reliable cropper.
So I decided to plant a Hass and a Sir Prize – which sounded like a great variety. I wanted to plant them next to each other. An American friend of mine bought me a Sir Prize tree, but we learnt that the shipping to France was way too expensive (8 times more expensive than the plant itself), and we also had no garanties that the plant would pass the customs.
So, right now I still want to plant two avocado trees))))) I still want to plant a Hass, but I haven’t decided on the second variety.
As I learnt that planting an A-type and a B-type only encreased crops by 20%, I thought it would be smarter to plant a second tree that would be fruiting when Hass does not, allowing me to have avocados almost all year long, as ou describe in your article.
So, I found an avocado variety calendar, on gregalder.com
but I am still struggling and have no idea what second variety would be the best choice.
In Europe, I can buy:
– might be possible to buy a Lamb Hass (but I read about the Lamb Hass’s strong habit of alternate bearing)
I am looking for a variety that would :
1) be reliable cropper, a variety that gives high yields, even as a solo-tree (we don’t have other avocados in our neighourhood, and my two trees, not flowering at the same time, would be considered as solo-trees)
2) have high-quality fruits, tasty, with a high oil-content.
Your help would be most welcome,
This is so fun! I also don’t know anything about growing avocados in France, but I’ll do my best to help you get started. Because of your lack of frost, I don’t see why you couldn’t grow avocados well.
I would plant a Hass and a Reed if I were you. Both can crop well as solo trees, and they have different harvest seasons, and they both are extremely high-quality in terms of eating. My second choice would be Hass and Fuerte. My third choice would be Hass and Lamb.
Avocados have been grown in neighboring Spain for a very long time, and I know there are nurseries there. One is related to a nursery based in California called Brokaw: https://www.viverosbrokaw.com/?lang=en
I would call them and see about buying trees from them if you have trouble locating trees elsewhere. And please let me know how your adventure in avocado growing proceeds.
Thank you so much for your recommendation. I decided to follow your advice and plant one Reed and one Hass. I feel really enthusiastic about it, and grateful for your advice.
I would like to let you know how my adventure in avocado growing proceeds.
As a matter of fact, choosing the varieties was just the beginning))))
That’s because after choosing the variety I decided that time has come to choose the rootstock))))
And I started reading about rootstocks. I found several great articles:
This is when I realised the tremendous importance of the rootstock (some rootstocks have three times bigger yields than the others!)
I read that Duke 7 (American) and Dusa (South African) are to this day the best rootstocks. This is according to these articles of course. What do you think?
Then, I found out that none of the French nurseries provided any information about the rootstocks. Which basically means it may be grafted on just anything. (I have to confess this is a real problem of our nation….. No information whatsoever about rootstocks in the nurseries… And then people are surprised that their cherry or apricot trees don’t fruit). Also no information whether it is a clonal rootstock or a seedling one (for avocado trees).
This is when I began looking for my trees abroad, within the EU. I found only two Spanish nurseries that talked rootstocks. One of them doesn’t deliver to France. But the other – VIVEROSBROCKAW does!!!!!!!! You were right, Greg, they are the best!!!!!!!!!!! They explain about varieties and rootstocks and even about clonal vs seedling rootstock (that was an amazing discovery as well). Unfortunately, they do not have a webshop, but I was able to call them, and they spoke both French and English. To my delight, they confirmed that they shipped to France. I am still waiting for an answer about my order, which, I hope, will be possible. They have both Reed and Hass, both Duke 7 and Dusa.
I decided on buying a clonal rootstock.
But I still hesitate about the rootstock variety. What would you recommend? I am thinking Dusa for Hass (everyone says that Hass avocado grafted on Dusa is more productive than on Duke 7) But I have no idea about Reed, because no scientific study mentions Reed (I guess this is because it is not a commercial variety anymore). I thought you could know more about avocado rootstocks, – reading articles is one thing, but having an avocado tree orchard is another)))))
Also, Duke 7 and Dusa are highly tolerant to Phytophthora (Duke 7 is tolerant to Phytophthora citricola and Dusa – to Phytophthora cinnamomi). I think we do have tomato phytophthora. But I have no idea if tomato Phytophthora is related to Phytophthora that affects avocado trees……. ))) I sure am no botanist))))
What do you think about avocado rootstocks? Which is the best?
Should I go which two Dusas (Hass+Dusa, Reed+Dusa)? Or, just to be on the safe side (in case Dusa doesn’t function well in our soil) have one Dusa and one Duke 7? What would be smarter choice? In my (very limited) gardening experience, I noticed that choosing the right variety is not everything, one has to be sure it will function well in the conditions one’s got. Or is Dusa just the best variety to this day (as these articles say), and in any case it will be better than Duke 7?
I am a bit lost. I confess I began gardening only very recently, and I am super interested in all the different varieties and the scientific details. But this is just theory, and I lack experience in so many other aspects of gardening.
All of this is very complicated, but very inspiring!!!!
Oh yes, I found an avocado tree in Nice!!!!!!!!!!! No one – even the owner – knows what variety it is, but there is a lot of fruits on it. The tree looks good and very healthy!!!!!! That was very encouraging. I saw a fruiting avocado tree for the first time in my life.
Thanks for all of these wonderful updates. What an adventure you’ve gotten yourself into. Someday you will be the resource of knowledge on avocado growing in Nice.
I have been meaning to publish a post on avocado rootstocks for a year or two now. The problem is that there’s so much to say. You’ve spurred me to finally post on some portion of the topic at least. It’s important information.
First, there is no best rootstock. While Dusa is the global standard today, it does not perform best in all conditions with all scion varieties. For example, GEM (and some other varieties) on Dusa is a poor performer if the soil pH is high. I visited a grove with a soil pH of 8 and saw that their GEM trees on Dusa were stunted and chlorotic. The farmer found GEM to do very well on Toro Canyon and Duke 7 rootstock in his soil, however. I saw his GEMs on Toro Canyon and they looked perfect and vigorous.
I would go with the clonal rootstocks if you can, but I would get one tree on Dusa and the other on Duke 7. This way, if one performs significantly better than the other, then you could replace the poor performer with a tree on the rootstock that you know does well in your soil.
If you knew a lot about your soil, then you could make a better guess as to which rootstock is likely to perform best, but I wouldn’t worry about that.
I have a Reed on Dusa that is doing very well. Hass has done very well on Duke 7 for decades in many locations. If you can, I would go with those combinations.
You found an avocado tree in Nice! I figured there had to be one. Share a photo if you get a chance.
I recently bought a Hass and Reed on “salt tolerant “ root stock. Not sure exactly what that is. But I’ll let you know how they grow.
Thank you so much for your answer. I will order the combination you recommended.
Yes, before asking you about the rootstocks, I checked if there was anything about avocado rootstocks on The Yard Posts! Thank you for sharing this. This is important information indeed.
[About our soil: it is not acid at all, for sure. Our hydrangeas have always been pink, not a hint of blue, – no matter the quantity of the Soil Acidifier my mother added.I think our PH is around 7, not less. The rest of it – rocky, not very rich, not clayey (I guess this should mean it is well ventilated…. but I’m not sure. We had problems with root rot – our persimmon tree died of root rot…). I don’t know anything about salt in soil, never heard of it on the French Riviera. In some parts of our garden, good rich garden soil was added in big quantities.]
I don’t think it is possible to attach files to the commentaries on gregalder.com, so I will send you pictures by email.
I will tell you later how my adventure is going!
Please find attached the pictures of the avocado tree in Nice (the variety is unknown, picture taken on the 1st of November). I counted 51 fruits in this picture. The tree is around 12 ft.
Thank you, Elizabeth. The tree looks healthy and fruitful: auspicious for your plantings. It appears similar to Fuerte.
I’m from Southern Portugal and had also trouble to find reliable sources for avo trees.
Greg suggested me the Viveros Brokaw. I have been in contact with them for Carmen, GEM and Ettinger trees and late January was told to ask later in April for the trees.
Have you received your trees? What varieties did you get and on what rootstocks?
I get my “first” 14th trees from 2 Spanish online shops and after a couple of months in the dirt and under mulch, all of them are doing fine:
3 years old Hass – on Mexican race seedling; unknown type
2 years old Fuerte – on unknown seedling
1 year old Reed – on unknown seedling
1 year old Lamb – on unknown seedling
1 year old Pinkerton – on unknown seedling
1 year old Bacon on Zutano seedling
1 year old Hass on Zutano seedling
I decided to go pairwise; I’m curious and want to understand what’re the best varieties to eat & grow here in our climate and my particular soil and I hope to avoid alternate bearing issues…
Hello Greg, hello Vasco,
Vasco, thank you for your kind message. This is great news that you found and planted so many trees in Portugal! I hope to hear more updates from you.
This is finally my update.
I finally managed to buy 1 Hass (on Duke 7) in a local nursery in June 2022 (they sell avocado trees only in May-June). But unfortunately, there was a huge heat wave in July-August 2022, and the young Hass died of sunburn. I watered it every day, but the young tree literally burnt alive and became all black in just one month. The same occurred with my newly planted atemoya: the leaves turned black, and the tree dried to death. The heat was overwhelming (60 consecutive tropical nights, hosepipe ban, more than 100 towns in France had no drinking water).
However, apart from my own garden, I do some gardening in my parish church’s park, also in Nice. Our priest is a big avocado-lover; therefore, I planted 2 avocados there – Hass (on Duke-7) and Lamb (on Duke-7). These trees had a bit more shade and sprinklers watering. These trees survived the heat wave, they are healthy and beautiful.
In August I managed to order more avocado trees directly from Brokaw (Spain). I wrote to the manager, asked if they had avocado trees available, sent a bank transfer, did the arrangements for the shipping and the trees were delivered to Nice. 2 Reed (on Dusa) for me and the cathedral, and one Bacon (on Dusa) for the cathedral. I think they do not sell avocado trees on Dusa in nurseries, because it is still under licence (I had to pay a bit more for the patent and had to communicate to Brokaw the addresses of the orchards).
So, right now, at the church’s garden we already have a beautiful avocado collection – Hass, Lamb, Bacon and Reed. In my garden, I have only one Reed.
This autumn, I decided to order more avocado trees from Brokaw. I want to reorder a Hass (on Duke-7), as you recommended earlier. Plus – 1 GEM, 1 Lamb and 1 Bacon.
Greg, what rootstocks would you recommend for GEM, Lamb and Bacon?
Thank you so much.
Thanks for the update. If your Reed is on Dusa and it’s doing well so far, then I would get those other trees on Dusa too.
We have/had four avo trees planted next to each other. Four different varieties which were doing very well. After some pool renovations which sent torrents of pool water into the avo area two of the trees are completely dead. The other two are not doing well. One has more green on it than the other. I think this one can make a come back. The last tree has very little green although it does look like new green. Should we take all the trees out and start new? Take out the two dead and the one just barely hanging on and plant three new trees or find an entirely new place to plant away from the pool?
So sorry to hear about your trees. I’m guessing it was the chlorine that did the damage. You might try leaching the chlorine out of the soil by giving it a long watering with regular water. Maybe that would work. Plant a couple little vegetables in the spot to see how they do before planting new avocado trees.
Do you think I should remove the one tree which has a few new green shoots? I can give it time but wonder if starting new isn’t a better option.
Hard to say. I’m inclined to just replant everything because I don’t find that damaged young trees recover very well. If they don’t get a good start to life, they usually struggle forever. Not always, but usually.
Greg, this is a great thread, thank you. I am in the hills of Montecito, south facing slope. I am looking for something to pair with Hass for extended season and help in pollination. I haven’t seen you comment on Sirprize. It sounds like an ideal type B. Your thoughts?
Being in Montecito, it’s likely that your Hass will set very well without a pollenizer. Pollenizers haven’t been shown to make much of a difference close to the ocean like you.
However, if you’d like a B type to complement Hass for pollination and season extension then I’d go with Fuerte, Sharwil, or Nabal. Fuerte and Sharwil are going to be harvested starting before Hass, and Nabal has a later season than Hass.
Sir-Prize is a very good avocado but I don’t think it’s quite as good as those three, especially for your situation since its harvest season is only a little before Hass and overlapping with Hass.
Thank you for your wonderful blog! There is a lot of great info here.
Recently I moved to the cusp of Zones 9a and 9b. I was originally thinking of two avocado trees to go along with the Meyer Lemon and Black Mission Fig, but this post is making me think it should be three.
The information I am finding on Reed says that it is best grown in Zones 10-11. Should I avoid planting a Reed here? Or do you have any tips that may make it work?
Thanks for the kind words. Which town or area are you in? USDA zones are not very useful for deciding these things, unfortunately. I’m considered to be in zone 9, and yet my Reed does well.
I’m in Yucaipa (barely north of the center of the city.) Our southernmost facing front yard has a decent slope, so planning to plant there.
Thanks for the quick reply!
Hi Greg, thank you for your posts. They have been so helpful for me starting my garden. I live in Ramona in the Acres where we really get both extremes temperature-wise since it’s a pretty low/flat area not shielded by any hills mountains. During the big freeze a few years ago, the temp got so low that it killed a lot of local avocados. I’m about to head to subtropica nursery to buy three trees. Do you have any recommendations for which trees/rootstock combinations have the best chance of survival out here?
I’ve watched some young trees in your area get zapped by cold every couple years recently. You can go two ways about it.
One, get only the hardier varieties, such as Fuerte, Bacon, Zutano, or Puebla. This way you’re likely to rarely get bad damage.
Two, get a combination of hardier varieties and others like Hass, Reed, GEM, etc. This way you’ll likely have some years with fruit on all but some years where the tender ones get some damage.
As for rootstocks, I haven’t seen them make a difference in my yard in terms of cold tolerance of the tree as a whole. So since you’re buying from Subtropica, I’d get any clonals they have, if available, and then plan to wrap the trunk next winter to protect the rootstock and graft union area from cold. I use foam or bubble insulation to wrap the trunks of my baby trees their first winter. I have lost a couple in the past that I didn’t wrap.
Thanks for the info. I think I’ll pick a few avocados that you mentioned (knowing me I’ll get to the store and come back with seven) Call me crazy but I just ordered 10 thermometers that record the max/min temp on my property. I’m going to find the least cold spots on and plant the less cold hardy avocados there. I’ll do it again this summer to figure out where not to plant less heat tolerant plants.
Sounds like a good plan. Try to check out the frost patterns next time we get a cold night too. There’s likely to be at least a little variation in your yard.
Hi Greg, i live in north OC, and new to growing fruits in general. i have small seedlings of sir prize, stewart, lamb hass, and some hybrid unknown from home depot. I feel like all of them doesn’t have a good overlap in terms of flowering season, what can i do to make sure they get polinated enough? i was thinking that maybe a gwen to help the sir prize and reed for stewart seems to be the right pairing, or should i think about redoing my variety selection? those seedlings are just what i was able to get locally that have excellent flavor from what i research online.