California avocado farmers should look beyond Hass

Apr 15, 2011

"Native-born" Hass avocados have become the most popular variety in California, but Sacramento News and Review writer Alistair Bland said the state's farmers may be unnecessarily limiting their horizons.

Avocados originated in south-central Mexico and archaeologists in Peru have found domesticated avocado seeds buried with Incan mummies dating back to 750 B.C., according to the California Avocado Commission. The mother tree of all Hass avocados was born in a La Habra Heights, Calif., backyard.

Bland laments the homogenization of the California industry around the Hass variety. He spoke to farmer Randy Shoup of West Pak Avocado farm in Temecula, who said he doesn't look twice at any non-Hass variety.

"Though his website product list still describes several oddball avocados, he says he’s eliminated nearly all non-Hass trees from his property," Bland wrote.

A Hawaii avocado farmer who has collaborated with UC Davis and USDA in experimental cultivation on his Big Island farm told Bland that California avocado growers "need to get out more."

"He once ran a blind taste test of estate and imported avocados on local chefs. Winning varieties included the rich and buttery Kahalu’u and the islands’ favorite, Sharwil. Californian Hass flunked," the story says.

The Hawaii farmer once told Bland he won’t even let his horses eat Hass, "which perhaps leaves more for us."

Attached Images:

California growers produce mainly Hass avocados, well known for their black, pebbly rind. and rich, nutty flavor. (Photo: Copyright, California Avocado Commission)

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist