The Best Time for Picking Avocado Fruit
An avocado tree takes many years from the time it is planted until it produces fruit. Once a tree is mature, fruit must be harvested at the right time of the year and then stored before the avocados are perfect for eating.
Avocado Varieties Mature at Different Times
The most important consideration in harvesting avocados is knowing that each variety ripens at a different time of the year. So, it is crucial that you know which avocado variety you are growing in order to know the best harvest time.
The perfect time for harvesting avocados also depends on the climate and temperatures where the tree is growing. Therefore, you must also take local conditions into consideration as you judge the best time for harvesting mature fruit from your tree.
Here are the months of harvest for some of the most popular varieties of avocado:
- Anaheim: June – September
- Bacon: November – March
- Fuerte: November – June
- Hass: April – October
- Gwen: April – October
- Reed: July – October
- Pinkerton: December – April
- Zutano: October – March
Inspecting Avocado Fruits for Maturity
Avocado fruits mature, but do not ripen fully, on the tree. Once you have determined the best months for harvesting your variety, inspect the fruits carefully for the following signs of maturity:
- Mature fruits become larger.
- The color of the fruit may change, become darker, or become duller in appearance.
- Mature fruit may soften slightly.
- Mature fruit may develop speckles or brown spots on the skin
The exact indicators of fruit maturity differ from one variety to the next, so research the signs for the specific variety you are growing. You can also test fruit for maturity by picking one or two and letting them sit for a week and then testing them for ripeness.
Mature avocados can stay on the tree for weeks to months before picking for final ripening. So, only pick as many mature fruits as you can eat in a week or so, and let the others stay on the tree.
How to Pick Mature Avocados
You can prune avocado trees to keep them small and make harvesting easier. However, avocado trees naturally grow to large size, and harvesting fruit from a fully-grown, mature tree usually requires the following harvesting equipment:
- Bypass pruning shears
- Orchard ladder
- Pole harvester with basket
When picking fruit by hand, hold the avocado firmly and cut the stem with bypass pruning shears. For fruits higher up in the tree, use an orchard ladder to reach them and cut them by hand as described above, or use a pole harvester.
Pole harvesters have either a scissor blade or a hook for cutting the stem. Place the pole harvester so the blade cuts the stem above the fruit and the basket is located under the fruit. Do not let fruits fall to the ground, or they will become bruised and damaged.
Ripening Avocados After Picking
After harvesting mature avocados, store them in a shady place at room temperature for a one to two weeks. Test for ripeness by squeezing the fruit gently and checking for slight softness.
You can also pull-off the small button where the fruit was attached to the stem and use a toothpick to check the softness of the meat inside. If it is soft, the avocado is ripe and ready for eating.