large Fuerte

Fuerte Avocados: When to Pick?


Fuerte avocado

I just came in from checking out our Fuerte avocado trees.  It’s almost time to pick the biggest avocados! This variety is rarely found outside of California anymore, but they are among the best tasting avocados in my opinion.  

We have had such hot weather in the last month or so that the leaves are really brown on the tips.  The tree has been trying to get enough water during the heat,  but salts have built up in the soil since we haven’t had rain to wash them away.  That’s why so many of the leaves are brown.   Fuerte trees are especially sensitive to salt.

fuerte avocados i

When I stick my head into the branches,  I can find bunches of beautiful Fuerte avocados!  They are getting larger now and beginning tomorrow the biggest ones will be cleared by the California Dept. of Food and Agriculture as legal to harvest.  This means that the oil content for size 40 and up has reached the industry standard and is deemed to be edible.   Size 40 is 9.5-10.5 ounces,  and they’re named “40’s” because 40 of this size avocado will fit into a lug box.   If the avocados are bigger and only 36 fit into a box. they are called “36’s”.    Smaller avocados are “48’s”  or “60’s”  because that’s how many will fit into a lug box.

large Fuerte

Even though the state of California has released the large Fuertes for harvest (as of Oct. 27, 2015)  it’s a good idea to wait another month or two.   The oil content may be high enough for the fruit to soften, but the deep flavor of a Fuerte will develop as the oil content gets higher.   We like to wait until January or February to eat them.  That’s not to say that you shouldn’t pick your fruit if they are very large and the tree is straining to hold them all!   Bring a few inside and let them soften,  then see what you think about the flavor.   Fuerte avocados are delicious throughout the season!

cocktail avocado

You might see a few of these on your Fuerte avocado tree.  These are avocados that didn’t grow correctly and because they are shaped like a little cocktail wiener,  we call them “Cocktails”.  Some folks love to pickle them.  They’re ripen just like a regular avocado too!   When our kids were small they would use them like crayons to draw on the concrete driveway.   Kids can make their fun anywhere with anything!

Fuerte avocados

We like to pick only the largest avocados and leave the smaller ones on the tree to size up.

Do you have a Fuerte avocado tree?   Fuerte variety is one of the classic California avocado varieties that have amazing flavor but are no longer shipped across the country by suppliers to grocery stores and food service.  The skin is thinner than Hass, and the fruit is smooth, not bumpy like a Hass.   When they are ripe and have been softened,  the skin will peel right off the fruit!   Such a beautiful flavor too!

Have you ever eaten Fuerte avocados?   They’re one of my favorites!  Look for them in the Farmers Markets in southern California or order some online!

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  1. We have a fuerte that is mature, at least 30 or more years old. When we first moved to this house, avocados were big and delicious. Because the tree was so big, we decided to trim it up. We cut several large branches, (one was at least a foot thick, but growing out over a wall).Ever since we have not had good avocados and they are very small. First year about the size of a golf ball, then a little larger, but never back to their original size.
    Now they are sometimes like rubber inside and taste terrible. What did we do to our tree, and how can we fix it? Phil

    • I showed your message to The Farmer, and he says that pruning the tree should not have caused the problem. There are many variables with avocado trees. The irrigation schedule, the weather, nutrients, etc. Your tree could be lacking even one nutrient …do you fertile the tree?

      Remember that Fuerte avocados are only mature during Dec – March, so if you pick them before December they will be like rubber.

  2. We have an old Fuerte tree that we had to cut back. We are finally getting fruit and they look beautiful when we pick them( in March) but they do not ripen well.
    They develop black spots and the entire fruit never softens before they turn black. So disappointed and they are the best.

    Any suggestions?

  3. Hi Mimi:
    Found your site when my wife and I were discussing whether to leave a small piece of stem on a harvested Fuerte avocado during ripening, or whether to remove the stem. Any guidance?
    Thanks, Bob

    • When we pick the avocados we clip the stem flush with the fruit. The little piece of stem left there is protecting the fruit from oxygen. Best to leave it on the fruit or the fruit could turn dark color on the end and possibly soften unevenly. Or not. See the video on “How Do Avocados Grow?” On the blog.

  4. Beautifully written. I’m a native San Diego and I currently live in Pittsburgh. I was very surprised to find Fuertes at discount grocery store Save A Lot. Haven’t eaten one in 20 plus years. Looking forward to these!

  5. What a very nice string of messages!
    I am going to send a photo of what I think is our Fuerte. It is about 15 years old and the is the first year it has been loaded.
    Richard in Belvedere, CA

  6. Great article, thank you! Our neighbor has a Fuerte avocado tree on their property which falls over onto ours. Luckily, our neighbor has told us to help ourselves to those! They are my favorite avocado variety as well. We have been in this house since 2015 & whenever we picked them that year, they were AMAZING!!! The tree did not fruit in 2016, & last year I must have picked them to early because they tasted nothing like the yield in 2017. That’s what led me to Google search & your article. It’s going to be a great Christmas season! Thank you again!

  7. Hi Mimi! Thanks for your post. We have a Fuerte in our back yard and it’s great when it produces. Once it blooms, there are typically hundreds of tiny avocados, some of which fall off before they reach the size of a dime. We’re usually left with several dozen after that. We live in Riverside, CA, which experiences about a dozen 100+ degree days in a given summer(obviously not exactly the best climate for avocados). As a result, many of them get scorched. This year only about 10-15 survived. Do you have any advice for keeping them from getting scorched on the very hot days? Also, is it normal for the trees to lose so many early-stage avocados? I’d love to get a better harvest in the coming years. Thank you for your time!

    • Hi Dave,
      We feel your pain. It takes only one incident of hot weather when the tree gets dry, and all the fruit will drop off of a Fuerte tree. We watch the weather reports and try to anticipate the heat spells, giving the trees water ahead of the heat so that they never get dry. Last July we had that terrible heat – 115 degrees here in Escondido – and lots of fruit fell on the ground. It is normal for baby avocados to fall early in the season when the tree has set an over-abundance of baby fruit. It’s sad to see, but it happens every year. What is NOT normal is the extreme temperature changes, especially in July. We expect higher heat in Sept/Oct/Nov and plan irrigation accordingly.

      So, it only takes one hot day when you weren’t expecting the weather to change and you didn’t irrigate ahead of the heat. It’s really hard to give avocado trees the attention they need when the rest of life is so busy. Farming is our livelihood, so we build our life around the irrigating, watching weather and changing our plans to make sure the trees don’t get stressed. Even with all that attention, our trees do get stressed sometimes.

      Hope that helps. Step up the irrigating a few days before the weather warms up … and watch for it all year long because the weather can surprise us!


  8. Hi Mimi, Thanks for your post. We have a fuerte avocado tree in CA near Disneyland that my Mom planted 40 years ago. It continues to produce a good yield annually. However, I am concerned about the best way to care for it. It is Spring and is budding right now, with a few fruit left on it. What should I do to help it through its next growing season? Thanks for your help? Samuel

  9. Hi, stupid question. I purchased a Fuerte avocado tree from a large grower in September 2017. Now April, 2019 has about 10 avocados that are now turning dark and pebblely. They are not pear shaped more round.
    Do you think I was sold a Haas and not a Fuerte? It’s April 2019 and we first noticed tiny avocados in March of 2018. Thanks for any help

    • If the skin is really bumpy, it’s probably a Hass. Sometimes a Fuerte can look roundish, but usually they are pear-shaped. Fuerte’s do have little dots in the skin, but they are definitely not bumpy like a Hass. Fuertes do not turn dark when they’re ready to eat, but can turn black when they are rotten. Hass do turn dark color when they are ready to eat, but usually not when they are still on the tree, unless they have been sitting in the sun with no shade. Hope this helps.

  10. Hmmmm. We have a BUMPER crop of Fuertes on our tree and they have been fruiting since August…..maybe they like the climate in Hawai’i better than California?
    September 2019

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