Based on the South African Avocado Growers’ Association (SAAGA), 80% of avocado trees produced in South African nurseries are the dark-skinned Hass and Hass-type cultivars such as Carmen, Gem, Lamb-Hass and Maluma.
Green-skinned avocado cultivars such as Fuerte, Pinkerton, Ryan and Reed make up 20% of the nursery tree production. The most widely grown cultivar in South Africa is Hass followed by Fuerte.
Some of South African avocado cultivars are more prone to certain diseases and others may vary in terms of nutritional requirements, while orchard practices such as pruning, post-harvest handling of cultivars are similar.
This South African avocado cultivar yields small to medium and round to oval fruit with smooth green skin. The seed cavity moulds rapidly.
The late-season Reed Round has medium to large round fruit. The flesh is slightly nutty and does not darken when cut. Its seed is small to medium and the tree is sensitive to cold.
The rich nutty-tasting Edranol avocado is a medium to large, oval to pear-shaped avocado. The green skin has corky lenticels. Available from June to September. Store at +6°C and above.
Fuerte is the best-known avocado in South Africa. It is pear-shaped with a long neck and a smooth, thin, green skin when ripe. Fuerte flesh bruises easily and ripens within 7 days of harvest. Early ripening - available from February to August. Store this avocado at +5°C and above. Black marks appear on the skin when stored too cold. Fuerte is an alternate bearing cultivar. Fruit set is increased with bee pollination.
The round to egg-shape Hass is a smallish avocado with a knobbly, hard, green skin that changes to black-purple when ready to eat. Hass has a rich and nutty taste and is available from May to October. Best kept at +5°C and above. It has a good shelf life. The tree is slow-growing and fruit may be small in warm regions or when trees are older.
The Pinkerton avocado has a definite ‘neck’ compared to other avocados and has a rough green skin even when ripe. It is a large avocado with a slightly sweet taste and a small seed. It has a short season and is only available between June and July. Keep it at +7°C and above. Trees are prolific bearers.
Ryan is a late-season egg-shaped avocado, available from August to October. It is a large fruit with a rough green skin which is best kept at +5°C and above. Post-harvest storage is average. Ryan trees are heavy bearers and frost tolerant.
By Marinda Louw