Reed Avocados: Things To Know


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!



P.S. and for breakfast:

Weekend Egg on Toast with California Reed Avocado!








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  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?

    • 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”.

    • Thanks for your earlier reply Mimi.
      Regarding fertilizer, can I fertilize in the heat of the summer? How often during the year should I fertilize and when should I NOT fertilize?
      Thank you,

      • Hi Todd,
        Different products should go on the trees at different times of the year. If you fertilize in the heat of the summer, you have to make sure that the trees have plenty of water. Don’t “over fertilize” during hot weather. When we have a heat spell, The Farmer stops fertilizing sometimes. We use different products between March and October. At this time of year we use sulfate of potash. Sometimes we use magnesium and zinc — that goes on early in the year. We start with a leaf and soil analysis — then we know what we need to put on. Irrigation has to be done properly too. There is no easy or simple answer for everyone.

        • Mimi, you are a treasure chest of knowledge. Thank you. I will research soil sampling and in the meantime tread lightly with The fertilizer.

        • Leaf sampling too! Fruit Growers’ Lab in Ventura does it. You mail the samples to them and then get a report.

  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:
      We planted Santana, Nabal, Carmen Hass, Mexicola, and several others that I can’t even remember. Those trees are still pretty small.
      Good luck!

  4. Mimi

    I have twelve trees. Nine hass, one Pinkerton, one fuerte and a two year old reed. All the trees are 18 years old but the reef. This year the trees are loaded with fruit and they have dropped several your fruits. The reed has never really taken off and leaves are very small. It has about ten fruit on it this year. I water all the trees twice a week for about three hours. Once a month I give them an additional six hours of watering. I am in sand and I live on the central coast about a Mike from the ocean. How can I get the reed to do better? I fertilize about four months with triple 15.


    • Do you watch the weather and water more when hot weather is coming? If the tree gets stressed in heat, it can affect things for the next year or two. Also, have you done soil and leaf analysis? This might tell you if certain nutrients are too high or too low. Once in a while we have a tree that just isn’t doing well — it might be a sick tree. We used to try to help them along, but now if a tree is sick we take them out, rather than spending money on expensive water and fertilizer for a tree that cannot produce. Good luck.

  5. Hi Mimi, I have a Reed avocado tree I planned in my courtyard about 5 years ago. It not that big ( 10 feet ) and I’m getting about 30 avocados per year from it. My problem is I never know when they are rip to pick. They are big, green and hard for months. Is there a way to to tell when they are ready to harvest?

    • Reed avocados are summer fruit — try one in mid to late June. Enjoy them in July and August. As long as the weather doesn’t get super hot, they might hold on the tree so you can leave them there and enjoy them. When they start ripening very quickly, or they fall off the tree, you have waited too long. Hope this helps!

  6. Hello! Nice write up. I had a question, i sprouted a reed avocado its about 2 months old. Should i graft this to make it flower early? Also if so do you sell scion wood, which scion wood should i use for reed variety?

    • When you sprouted the avocado seed, the “root stock” of the orginial tree grew. If you want a Reed avocado, you would need to graft it. I do not know how old the tree needs to be to graft. We usually buy our trees, all ready to plant, and already grafted.

  7. Hello Mimi greatly appreciate your blog about Reeds. I planted one in our back yard here in a Vista, CA a year and half ago and it has one very large beautiful Avocado on it and nothing else now. I will pick this one in June or shall I wait for it to fall off, since its been on almost a year and the tree has been getting established.

    Few things to ask. My leaves are brown all along the edges and then some anything I should be aware of? Also no other avocados have come out should I be concerned as I did buy this particular species to eat

    • Hi Glenn, We are not far from Vista — just north of Escondido. Reed avocados are good at the end of June or into July/August. Don’t rush it. I might wait until July to pick your one avocado. The oil content has to be high enough for the fruit to ripen.

      The leaves turn brown on the edges when the tree doesn’t have enough water during a heat spell. Try to anticipate heat and water ahead of it. We had that awful 115 degrees last summer that messed up the trees. Your Reed tree should start blooming soon and will set more fruit for next year. Use a little “triple 15” fertilizer before a rain — good to do that before the bloom. You need the rain, or plenty of water, so that the fertilizer will be washed into the soil.

      The tree will bloom and set fruit in the springtime – then wait until the next year to harvest the fruit. It takes a long time to grow an avocado, and lots of patience. Some years the Reeds have a good crop and sometimes they don’t. Good luck this year!

  8. Hi Mimi, I have a Reed avocado tree that I planted nearly 10 years ago. Instead of growing tall and straight, it’s branches have always hung downward, and I’ve held them up with supports. Today I installed a bar-b-que canopy over it to hold it up better. The Reeds are my favorite avocados, so I really was excited to own one. It usually yields only about 12 avocados a year, and usually they’re fully grown and ready to pick in November. It’s got a lot of buds and babies right now, but this sounds like it’s growing season is several months after yours. Can you tell me why the branches continue to hang down instead of growing upward, and while the yield is so low? I live in Chula Vista, about 2 miles from the ocean, where I have an ocean view and ocean breezes most of the year. Thanks for your blog.

    • We’re up in Escondido. I don’t think we have any babies on our trees yet, but i haven’t been out to look. They’re all blooming. I can’t imagine holding our Reeds until November ….they usually mature quickly and fall off the tree if we don’t pick them before the hottest weather. I have no idea why your branches hang down – sorry.

  9. Hello Mimi. I have a young reed I planted last year. It is about 4-5 foot tall. I was looking at it and it appears to have somewhere in the 50 tiny fruit starting to grow. My question is can a tree this small handle the weight of so many avocados without damage to all of the branches. Thank you
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