When most people hear the word ‘avocado’ they think of a delicious commodity that can be easily picked up from the local store. We are going to change that perception with this range of posts and show you what goes on behind the scenes of avocado production. We are going to breakdown the production and export trends, discuss the biology of the tree and give you a taste of what it takes to be a profitable avocado farmer.
The avocado originates from Central America, so it is no surprise that Mexico boasts the worlds largest production of the fruit, with 1.5 million tons of avocado being grown annually. Other notable growers include the Dominican Republic, Peru and Indonesia. The global market is quite concentrated, which means that most of the avocados are produced by only a few countries. There’s a good reason why it’s mainly central and south American countries that produce avocados. These trees require warm, subtropical environments. They do not tolerate frost well and windy areas will be disastrous for pollination.
Speaking of pollination, honeybees are often the primary pollinator for avocados, especially when they’re cultivated outside of their natural environment. Beehives are common throughout the avocado orchards. The bees are essential for fruit growth because of the flowering nature of the trees, but more of that in our next post.
Over the last 20 years, avocado production has more than doubled from 2.2 million tons in 1997 to 5.8 million tons in 2016. Currently, avocado production is increasing at a rate of 4.1% per year. Ethiopia is the country with the largest increase in production at a rate of 250% over a 3-year period, whilst Venezuela is experiencing a decline in production at a rate of 20% over the same period.
There are a wide variety of avocado cultivars on the market. By far, the most widely cultivated is the ‘Hass’ variety. These are known for their dark green, wrinkly skin and up to 80% of all avocados grown belong to this variety. The other 20% is mainly comprised of varieties such as ‘Fuerte’, ‘Ryan’, ‘Pinkerton’ and ‘Bacon’.
Check out this post on how commercial farmers grow their fruit using honeybees!