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. Some years Fuertes set a lot of fruit, and then the next year they often take a vacation.
    Mimi Holtz recently posted..Avocado Growers Love RainMy Profile

  2. Ours took a vacation last year and this year we have so much fruit we lost two big branches from the tree because of the weight. We have to wait until all are picked and then call an arborist to trim This humongous tree.

  3. thanks for the insightful information. started to pick a few the last couple of weeks and noticing the top is getting soft while the rest is hard. cut them open and it was just rubbery (but the top soft part was good) so i assume i picked them too early and it hasn’t developed the oil content yet.

    also..noticed the seed is HUGE inside…does that mean this particular tree i have will forever produce large seeds? thank you!

    • You are probably right about picking too soon. Our Fuertes are just barely ready to pick, and the flavor will be improving over the next weeks. Fuertes do have very large seeds.

  4. Love the comments! Raised up on fuertes. Lived in San Diego County. Grew great in La Mesa, Lakeside, and of course Escondido/ Fallbrook. Moved to Ventura County when i was 21. My heart is in a a fuerte. But Reed, Hass, Lamb Hass, and Pinkerton are unbelievable as well. I have a giant Hass in my back yard. Have a giant pinkerton in front. Just planted 2 Reeds &1Fuerte. Plan to get some scions of a Lamb Hass. What can i say i Love avocado trees. My wife thinks i’m crazy.

  5. Hi Mimi, thanks for the great “avo info”. Can you recommend any other varieties that grow well in the Escondido, CA area that can be picked another time of year? Maybe Spring or Fall?
    Thank you,

    • Hi Todd,
      Reed avocados are summer only, from June through September. Gems are showing some promise for early winter/ late fall, but the ones we planted are not producing yet.

  6. Hi Mimi!

    I moved into a house with 2 Fuerte Avocado trees. I picked several of them from the tree (about 20 of them!) in the last week or two. Two weeks later, they’re still rock hard! I cut one open and it was bitter. So my question is, how do I know when to pick them, and once I pick them, how do I know when they will ripen? Right now I have them in my pantry in a paper bag and they’re still not really getting soft 2 weeks later…. Thank you!

    • Hi Molly, Fuerte avocados are a ‘short season’ avocado — they will not be ready to pick until late December, and even then you will enjoy them more if you wait until Jan/Feb/March to pick and eat them. Fuertes on the tree right now are still growing, still gaining oil content. The ones you picked will never soften because they are not mature enough and the oil content is not high enough. Wait until at least December before you pick any more. Throw out the ones you picked recently. The flavor of the avocados will be richer as the oil content increases — so in Dec. the Fuertes will soften but will not have much flavor. By February they will be heavenly!!

  7. Hi Mimi. Need help. My avacado tree seems to be dying. Want to plant another one. Live in coto de caza ca. Which one is good for my area. And what, if anything, can I do to save my current tree

    • Hi Dee,

      If your tree is dying, you can replace it with any variety you want, as most avocados do grow in Southern California. If you plant Fuerte, the fruit will be in season in winter. Hass has a longer season, so that is one of the most popular. Best to check with your local nursery and see what varieties are available. As for saving your dying tree, it’s hard to know whether it is dying due to lack of water, disease, or need for nutrients. Best to get some advice from your local nursery.

  8. hi, i am from Nepal . and i have a avocado tree in my garden which i believe is fuerte variety as it matches most of the features with fuerte type except for one that mine gets dark purple when it ripes.
    so i would like to know if some varieties of fuerte gets dark purple when it ripes or is it different variety with fuerte looks.
    can u help me by sharing the info.. thanks..

    • There is a variety called Mexicola that is dark purple. People eat them like apples, skin and all. Fuertes are usually called “green skins”, like Bacons — they do not darken when they are ready to eat.

  9. I live on the west side on a historical property. They grew Fuertess and walnuts. The last walnut was taken down 3 yrs ago. My neighbor has the Mother tree & I have a youngster. Landlords cut down the tree but the youngster grew out of it, thank heavens! 10 yrs old now. Production is good since we past the drought. Heavy fruits. Usually start dropping in mid Nov & we still have some at Christmas. They are delicious, super rich & last well. Excellent for yr health. The raccoons knock them down, so this year have to get a metal band so they can’t climb up. I find people pick them way too soon. When a few drop, you will know. The trees are ginormous! One of the reasons they stopped growing them in addition to soft skins. But they are 1000x better than Haas.

  10. Thank you for all the I the information. I am blessed to have several Fuerte trees along with Lamb Haas and Haas. I have heard from folks they don’t like the thin skinned Fuerte but I think they are missing out on a rich in oil avocado.

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