At times an avocado tree will set more fruit than it can grow to maturity without negative consequences. The tree might be too small such that carrying much fruit will stunt its growth, or the fruitlets might be too numerous on a single branch such that it will bend from the weight of the fruit and get sunburned or even break.
Or the fruitlets might have set on a low branch and will be resting on the ground once they are big and heavy, which can cause peel problems.
In these situations you might want to remove some fruitlets. But which do you remove?
Fruitlets that have obvious defects, such as scarring or damage to their stem, should go. Fruitlets hanging outside the canopy and vulnerable to sunburn should also go.
How about choosing between small and large fruitlets? Last July, a Yard Posts reader named Brandon asked if the young fruit on his Hass tree that were of different sizes then would ultimately all harvest at about the same size, or would the small ones remain small.
I replied: “They might be different sizes just based on when they started growing. Some might have been pollinated in March while others weren’t pollinated until May, for example.” Then I suggested that we both tag a few of the fruit that are exceptionally big or small at that time (July) and see if they end up remaining relatively big or small at harvest time.
So in July I tagged the smallest and biggest young avocado fruit on five of my trees. I revisited the trees last week (early January). See the results in this video:
Edranol- no change in relative size; no drop
Gwen- small dropped, large remains
Hass- small dropped, large remains
Reed- both dropped
Pinkerton- no change in relative size; no drop
Why the difference in fruit drop between varieties? Most fruit drop occurs soon after the fruit is set, that is, when it is very small (think: pea size). The varieties that had no drop (Edranol and Pinkerton) both start to flower earlier than the varieties that had some drop. And the varieties that dropped only their small fruit (Gwen and Hass) are mid-season bloomers.
The flowering season of Reed extends much later than the other varieties, even into early July at my place, as does its season of normal fruit drop. Therefore, it would have been more useful to tag Reed fruit in August or September.
I don’t think I can make any hard conclusions based on what happened to those few fruit. I would need to tag many more fruit for that.
However, as of now, if I were choosing between small and large fruitlets to remove, I would remove the small ones because they seem more likely to drop and more likely to remain smaller at maturity.
This summer I’ll tag more avocado fruitlets to see if I get results that follow the pattern from last year.
On March 19, 2023, I made a final check of these tagged avocados before starting to harvest and found that the results were the same as summarized above. There had been no further drops and the relative size differences remained.
All of my Yard Posts are listed HERE
Your direct support is what The Yard Posts runs on. Thank you!