Reed Avocados: Things To Know

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ReedHalfIt’s October, and here on the avocado ranch we’re eating Reed avocados.  Have you ever tried a Reed?  Have you ever seen them in a store or farmers’ market?   If you have, you know that Califoria Reeds are one of the largest,  creamiest, and most delicious avocados in the world!   We look forward to late summer and early fall every year because that’s the time to eat the Reeds.

{6/19/2014  Added Note: Our 2014 Reeds are early … ready to eat in June already!}

ReedTreeWe used to have lots of Reed trees, but we cut many of them down and grafted them over to Hass variety.   After they were cut to a 4-5 foot stump,  a tree specialist made a slice into the tree and implanted a piece of bud wood from another tree.   In this way we were able to use the root system already established, but grow a new tree of a different variety.  We were sorry to say goodbye to so  many beautiful Reed trees, but we had seen that the Hass variety was preferred by consumers and would bring us a better price.

It is expensive and labor-intensive to grow avocados, so we need to make enough money to pay for the water, fertilizer, and care throughout the year in order to stay in business.  Reed avocados were just not popular enough to bring a good price. In the photo you can see the difference between the tall Reed tree and the shorter young Hass tree that  was grafted onto a Reed stump.  Hass trees like to spread out and become rounded in shape unless they are planted close together…then they will grow tall and form a canopy.   Reed trees like to grow straight up, and don’t form a canopy as easily.  It’s fun to walk up to a Reed tree because often there are avocados within arm’s length to pick!

BabyReedsThis year’s crop of avocados are ready to pick, and next year’s crop is already growing on the tree!  Can you see the tiny ones in the background?

NewGrowthReedAs the baby avocados grow bigger, the tree puts out new growth like an umbrella to shade the new fruit from the sun.   Avocados bloom in the spring,  then the tiny baby avocados begin to grow.  It take all year for the fruit to reach full size and maturity so that it will ripen after it is picked.  The Hass variety of avocado is ready to pick from December until late summer.  These are the pear-shaped avocados with the bumpy skin that you probably see most often in the stores.   Reed avocados are not ready to eat until late summer…July through October in southern California.   When  all of our Hass avocados have been picked,  we know it’s time to start eating the Reeds.

 

Reed-AvocadoA Reed avocado is very creamy.   The skin is thick and leather-like.   To find out if a Reed is ready to eat, hold it in your hand and gently press your thumb.   It will not feel rock hard, but will “give” just slightly.  It “gives” less than other avocados with thinner skins,  so it’s easy to wait too long with a Reed.  They don’t turn black when they’re ripe either…so it takes a little practice to learn when a Reed is perfectly ready to eat.  A skill worth learning!

IMG_4811Late in the season, the fruit is very mature…higher oil content means the fruit is creamier,  the color is a deeper gold, and sometimes the root has already started growing out of the seed!  When the root is already growing like this one,  balance the seed over a  glass of water so the root can get a drink and watch it grow!  (push some toothpicks into the side of the seed to hold it on top of the glass)

IMG_4813One of the most exciting things about Reed avocados is that they come with their own bowl!    The skin is so thick and strong that you can mash the avocado right in the skin, using it for a natural bowl!  This has to be one of Mother Nature’s greatest accomplishments!  The ultimate fast food!  Just add salsa, or some seasoning…and dig in!

ReedAvocadosonTreeAren’t you glad you know something about Reed avocados now?  You may see them in stores like Whole Foods in September and October.   You will also find them in farmers’ markets in southern California.  A large Reed avocado can make enough guacamole for several people,  or provide sliced avocados for burgers and sandwiches.  Since they’re larger than other avocados,  we often eat only a half at a time.  Even if the leftover half turns brown on top,  just slice off the brown and enjoy the rest of the avocado underneath within one day or so.  We’re having them on hamburgers for lunch! Wish you were here to join us!

ReedonaBurger

 

P.S. and for breakfast:

Weekend Egg on Toast with California Reed Avocado!

EggandAvoonPizza

 

 

 

 

 

 

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108 Comments

  1. We bought a house in San Diego in summer 2018 with a mature, 30′ tall avocado tree. It has one single avocado when we moved in, which dropped shortly thereafter. When we ate it a few days later, it was the most delicious avocado I ever had. Thanks to this post, I figured out it was a Reed. For the 2019 season, it was the same story: One avocado. Unfortunately that one dropped early, in the spring. It was good, but not like the one from 2018. Our 2020 crop is coming in now, and thanks to some TLC we have hundreds coming in! The tree has been dropping a couple per week the entire time, so I’ve been monitoring how they mature, and see some questions in the comments I’ve learned answers to: the fruit is pretty much full size by autumn, but if you pick it, it will just shrivel, taste kinda bitter and nutty, and be very watery. Some will still have decent flavor, most won’t. Now that we’re in spring here (March) all of them coming off the tree now are fine to eat, but still mediocre. I’m just picking damaged fruit at this point, and picking up the ones that drop on their own. Since we have so many, I don’t mind eating some a little before season. The tree is just now budding for next year’s crop. Since peak maturity is in summer, that means our crop cycle here in San Diego is minimum 12 months to have edible fruit, longer for peak maturity, all the way up to 18-19 months, although I don’t yet know how the quality will be by September or October. Finally, our tree has been fairly easy to manage. I gave it a little bit of fertilizer in the spring, and made sure to give it plenty of water during the summer (last year and this year we’ve had plenty of rain in the winter, I haven’t watered anything yet this year).

    • Thanks for posting. If you do have a Reed, they won’t be good to eat until late June through (maybe) September. We eat ours in June/July. Depends on the weather and how things go each year. Glad to hear you have so many avocados on your tree. Reeds are not like Hass — Hass can be eaten for many months. Reeds won’t soften early, and they go “over the hill” quickly when our late summer heat hits. Agreed…Reeds are delicious!

  2. Mimi, how often should I water my avocado trees? Does twice a week for a couple of hours (mini spray) sound right?
    Todd

    • Irrigate often enough to keep the top nine inches of soil moist. It depends on the soil. Do not let the tree go dry and then try to catch up. When the weather gets hot, irrigate ahead of it so that your soil stays moist and the tree always has a “drink”.

  3. Mimi,
    I just discovered you blog. We have an acre plus so would like to add several avocado trees. (I probably eat 5-7 a week) A friend suggested a Lamb Hass for one of them. Can you tell me of a variety that would ripen later? I’m told there are some that ripen from April to August and some that ripen from Sept to Feb. We live in Santa Barbara, CA.

    • Hi Timothy, The winter varieties that we have are Bacon and Fuerte. I love the Fuertes and look forward to them every year. We harvest them from December to March. After we finish harvesting Hass in June/July we enjoy the Reed variety. They are great from June through August. We have recently planted several other varieties, hoping to find one that will come after Reed and before Fuerte. Gwen could be it, but we’re not sure. Here is a webpage with some info: https://www.californiaavocado.com/avocado101/avocado-varieties
      We planted Santana, Nabal, Carmen Hass, Mexicola, and several others that I can’t even remember. Those trees are still pretty small.
      Good luck!
      mimi

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