Have you ever seen an avocado flower? They’re very small, but they do a very big job! When these little flowers first open they are female. Their stigma can receive pollen, but the stamen won’t shed pollen at first. The nectar produced in the flower attracts bees, the bees carry pollen from one flower to another, and that pollen gets deposited onto the stigma of this new flower.
This new flower stays open for only 2-3 hours, then closes and stays closed for the rest of the day and night. The next day, the flower opens again, but this time it will shed pollen … it is now a male flower! It stays open for a few hours and then closes again. If it was successfully pollinated on the first day, it will develop into a new avocado.
If this isn’t complicated enough, consider this: There are two kinds of avocado flowers! They are called “A” and “B”. The “A” flowers are female first, then male. The “B” flowers are male first and then female. So it works out that there are male and female flowers open at the same time. Isn’t nature wonderful? If you want more technical information, The University of California has a great article about it here.
When avocado trees bloom, the crop that has been growing over the past year is still on the tree. This is why we pick the biggest avocados just before the trees begin to bloom. The trees need to use their energy to produce flowers and new little babies, so we take the biggest fruit off of the tree. The smaller fruit is left on the tree to size up. We will pick that fruit later in the season. And at the same time, the baby avocados begin to grow!
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