LAvocado (Persea americana Mill.) Is a plant native to Central America (Mexico, Guatemala, Antilles), already known in pre-Columbian times. Today Avocado is widespread in Latin America, California and Florida; in the Mediterranean it is present in Israel and Spain. In Italy, although in the southern areas there is a suitable environment, specialized cultivation occupies only a few hectares.
It belongs to the Lauraceae family.
Tall tree plant always green with very expanded root system.
The foliage can reach a height of 15-20 meters. The flowers, in apical position, are hermaphrodites, small, gathered in racemes and very numerous; being inconspicuous, they are only visible to a small extent by pollinating insects and this leads to low productivity. The fruits are drupes of variable shape, green or purple, with a single polyembryonic seed and a buttery pulp, rich in fats.
Despite being an evergreen plant, lavocado presents, in some varieties, an almost complete phylloptosis near the flowering, which can last even a couple of months.
Lavocado is a plant with ample possibilities of adaptation both to tropical and subtropical climates and to temperate environments. In areas particularly exposed to the wind, adequate protections must be prepared, especially for the varieties with large development and late ripening, consisting of dead windbreaks placed at right angles to the prevailing winds.
Avocado fruits - Persea americana Mill. (website photo)
Avocado (photo www.plantsystematics.org)
Varieties and rootstocks
There are three breeds or botanical varieties: the Mexican, Lantillana and the Guatemalan, which are distinguished by some characteristics of the leaves which, in the shoots, are green in the first two, bronze-violet in the last; moreover, only in the first have a typical anise scent. In the varieties cultivated today these characteristics are not well defined as they are hybrids.
The most widely spread avocado cultivars are characterized by the impossibility or almost self-fertilization even if they have hermaphrodite flowers. With regard to floral biology, avocado cultivars are divided into two groups: A and B; in the first there is the receptivity of the pistil during the morning but the anthers are bent and the pollen cannot carry out fertilization, while in the second it occurs inversely; therefore, in order to obtain production, the concomitant presence of varieties of both groups is required.
The most commercialized varieties are:
Ettinger and Fuerte the most common varieties, elongated, thin bright green skin. Nabal with a more rounded shape, thick skin and particularly delicate pulp. Rough-skinned hass that maturing from green change to a dark color, considered by many lavocados to be tastier in flavor.
The degree of salinity of the irrigation water conditions the choice of the rootstock, which in the presence of a low salinity must be Mexican, vice versa antillana.
It can be considered a fast growing plant; in three years, under normal conditions, it reaches the size of a citrus with over 10 years of age. The seedlings grafted with phytocell can be planted both in autumn and in the late winter-spring period. The current trend is to adopt dynamic mx 5x4 to obtain definitive 5x8 mths. The benefits that can be derived from the use of dynamic sixths are:
- better use of the surface during the first cultivation period;
- higher yields per hectare;
- lower processing costs.
Lavocado needs limited cesori interventions, to be performed for the first time after several years and then from time to time in order to thin out the vegetation.
Planting costs are equivalent to those of a citrus grove. The production costs of an avocadeto are considerably lower overall than a citrus grove. Regarding the amount of water needed, on average, you can refer to the water needs of a citrus grove.
The fruit picking begins in late October-early November for early varieties and ends in March-April for late varieties. As for yields, using a good Hass clone on an appropriate rootstock, the production per hectare can vary from 10 to 20 tons. The weight of the individual fruits varies from 200 to 500 grams depending on the variety.
Lavocado is ripe when it is soft at light finger pressure. And to be used more as a vegetable than as a fruit. The pulp can be seasoned with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper; you can add a little mustard and a crushed garlic clove, or aurora or mayonnaise sauce to the dressing. Creamy pulp can be spread on bread. Cut into cubes it enriches the mixed salad.