Avocados are large trees, requiring spacing of 25 feet or more. Pruning avocados after harvest will keep the tree a manageable size for future harvests. They are beautiful trees, providing cool shade and abundant fruit. There are many varieties to choose from and with three or four varieties one can harvest fruit most of the year. Avocados grow well on most soils provided they are given excellent drainage. Good drainage is essential to their health. Without proper drainage, the trees will succumb to phytophora (avocado root-rot) and decline. Avocados can be grown with good success up to approximately 4000 foot elevation. They prefer slightly alkaline soil (give them dolomite or crushed coral at planting) and respond well to a balanced fertilizer at regular intervals. They thrive with organic fertilizers and mulching.
Harvest most varieties when the skin turns from a shiny gloss to a dull mat color. Each variety has a season when the fruit is ripe, although all varieties flower in the winter.
Beardslee were introduced to Honolulu in 1911, Beardslee is a fall to early winter variety bearing fruit weighing between 24 and 40 ounces. The fruit are oval to pyriform in shape, with a purple skin, and a rich and creamy flavor.
Fujikawa is a Hawaii selection that has a consistent heavy bearing spring season. The pear-shaped fruit has a medium-sized seed and green skin with excellent flavor.
Greengold is a cultivar developed by the University of Hawaii, considered by many to be superior to the Sharwil. Trees have a long and heavy bearing season generally between January and April. The fruits are medium size, pear-shaped with a small seed, high oil content, and a rough green-gold skin. Type A flowers.
Kahalu’u is a popular Hawaii avocado and is considered by many to be the best-flavored variety in the state. The fruit is ripe in the fall from August to November, but can be an alternate bearer, producing fruit every other year. The avocados are large and oblong with a small seed and thin green skin.
Lamb Hass is a California selection bearing spring and summer fruit. It is a heavy regular bearer, with fruit averaging 10 to 18 ounces with skin black when ripe. Fruit may have a larger seed when grown in rainy areas. Type A flowers.
Linda is a regular, heavy bearing tree with fruit that ripens in the spring. The avocados are large and roundish with a medium seed, dark purple skin when ripe. It is often referred to as the “dieter’s avocado” due to its lower oil content and good flavor.
Lisa is a Hamakua selection that bears regularly from November to February. Fruits are 2 to 3 pounds, high quality with a rich oil content. Trees are vigorous and fast growing and pruning is advised every year after harvest is complete to keep the tree a manageable size. (Photo: Lisa is the whole avocado on the left, pictured next to an open sharwil to show size.)
Malama is a Hawaii selection that is a regular, heavy bearer with fruit ripe early in the fall. Skin is purple when ready to eat, easy to peel, with a rich and nutty flavor. The fruit has high oil content and is deliciously creamy.
Murashige is a Hawaii selection that is a heavy bearer with fruit ripe in late spring and early summer. The fruit is large and pear shape, with a small seed and a dark green skin. It has excellent flavor but ripe fruit does not store well.
Ota is a Hawaii selection with a long and heavy bearing season from late in the fall and all through the winter months. The fruit holds well on the tree, and is round with great flavor and a small seed.
San Miguel bears pear-shaped fruit in fall and winter. The green skinned roundish fruit is about 8 to 20 ounces, with creamy texture that melts in the mouth. It is a productive spreading tree. Type A flowers.
Sharwil is popular with commercial growers, and has a long and heavy bearing season throughout the winter months of November to February. The fruit is medium sized and pear-shaped with a small seed, high oil content, and a green rough skin. Sharwil is an amazingly consistent bearer, and is the only variety allowed by the USDA to be shipped to other states.
Yamagata is a Hawaii selection with a long and heavy bearing season from March to July. The fruit is large and pear-shaped with a small seed and green skin. The fruit is delicious and received the 2011 award for best tasting and all around best Avocado in Kona’s Buyers Preference challenge.