If you like to eat avocados, then you have likely tried growing your own tree from one of your leftover seeds. However, like many other fruit, growing an avocado tree from seed is an extremely long, tedious and unproductive process.
Germinating the avocado seed is not the problem. Many people succeed in getting the first few leaves and root system to develop. However, you may have to wait up to 15 years until you can harvest your first fruit from that tree.
This is because avocado trees have a long juvenile phase. The juvenile phase is defined as a period in the trees development where flowering does not occur. This phase can be compared to childhood and adolescence in humans. Like humans, the avocado trees need a long time to develop and grow before they can reproduce.
If you have ever seen a mature avocado tree, you will notice how large the trunk and canopy is. In order for these parts of the tree to develop, a lot of carbon (which is synthesized during photosynthesis) is invested into getting these parts to grow and develop during the juvenile phase. Only once the tree has fully grown and matured will it start flowering and growing fruit.
If you have the patience and time to wait for 15 years before your tree grows fruit, then go ahead and grow your avocado tree from seed.
However, avocado farmers do not have this luxury. But then how do commercial growers solve this problem? Check out our next few posts to find out!
One of the most common ways of overcoming the juvenile phase is grafting a bud from an already established tree onto a young seedling. Depending on the condition, commercial avocado trees will either be grown using seed or clonal rootstocks.
Clonal propagation is commonly done according to the Frolich method. A seed is used the starter material, just like the seedling rootstocks. The seedling is grown and then grafted with a bud belonging to a mature plant of a rootstock cultivar, like ‘Duke 7’ or ‘Dusa’.