Meet Leslie, a long lost friend from Vermont who stopped by to see us with her husband last week as part of their road trip around the United States. When we first reconnected through Facebook, Leslie mentioned that someday she would love to take an avocado grove tour to see how avocados grow…and last weekend her wish came true! Continue reading
March is one of my favorite times of year in the avocado grove. The trees begin to sprout beautiful new growth in tones of red and pink. As the new leaves sprout, the buds of the avocado flowers begin to appear too!
As the buds grow bigger and begin to open, the trees begin to look shaggy with the spindly flowers making a splash of light lemon-lime color on the hillsides.
The tiny flowers begin to open, one by one.
Like tiny stars, each flower has the potential to become an avocado! But not every flower will be pollinated, or will have the chance to develop into a fruit.
As the flowers open, the avocado trees become a busy place, with bees gathering nectar. The sound of bees buzzing in the trees is quite loud! Humming, buzzing….bees! They aren’t paying attention to people…only to the flowers!
Some trees begin to bloom early, while others take more time. The new leaves continue to grow so they will be able to shade the new baby avocados from the warm springtime sun!
If you haven’t heard the story of avocado flowers, check out the post about Where Baby Avocados Come From! It’s a fascinating story! Flowers that can be male one day and female the next!
At the same time, the new crop of avocados is mature and sizing up! It’s time to pick those beauties so that the tree will have energy to set the new fruit and allow them to begin to grow! This year’s crop is on the tree at the same time that next year’s crop is getting started.
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Baby avocados begin as a flower. 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.
Sex Life of an Avocado
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.
Pick the Biggest Avocados First
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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