Factors Affecting the Maturation of Avocado Trees
Growing an avocado from a seed is the slowest way of getting to a mature, fruiting tree. Sprouting of the seed itself can take up to several months, and the seedling needs to continue growing and getting stronger for at least several more months before transplanting into garden soil or a large potting container.
Nursery stock trees are often grown for several years before they are sold, giving the tree you plant a head-start toward fruit production. Avocado trees purchased at a nursery can produce fruit in as little as 3 to 4 years. Nursery stock trees are also grafted onto special varieties of rootstock which can protect the tree against pests and diseases.
Besides grafting of one variety of avocado tree onto another variety of root stock, small branches, called scions, can be grafted onto a young, growing tree. The grafted branches then produce fruit sooner than the un-grafted branches on the tree.
By grafting different varieties of scion onto a tree, it is also possible to grow several different types of avocado on the same tree. Before a tree begins fruiting, it produces large amounts of clusters of small, yellow flowers. Many flowers naturally fall off of the tree, while a much smaller number may be pollinated and develop into fruit.
Once flowers are pollinated, fruit develops most rapidly between April and August, slowing in the following months until the fruit reaches its final size.
Fruit Maturity and Life-Span of Avocado Trees
Different avocado varieties are ready for picking at different times of year, once the fruit has reached the optimum oil content.
Harvest dates for a few popular varieties are:
- Hass – April
- Bacon – December
- Reed – July
Mature avocado fruits can be stored on the tree for as long as 8 months for the Hass variety and 2 months for other types before picking. However, fruit is not ready for eating right off the tree. Once picked, it must sit at room temperature for one to two weeks to become fully ripe and edible.
Avocado trees have a long life-span and keep on producing fruit for many decades after reaching maturity. A Hass avocado tree planted in 1926 is still fruiting, and avocado trees growing in the wild in Mexico have been known to live as long as 400 years.