It’s that time of the year again! Avocados are in season and ready to be harvested. This process can be daunting and confusing for many, while for experienced farmers, it’s second nature. Regardless of which category you fall into, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about avocado harvesting.
This blog will guide you through the avocado harvesting process to help you harvest your avocados come harvest time confidently and effectively. The blog will also cover basic information about avocados, the harvesting process, and what to do with your avocados once harvested. Read on for more details!
What is Avocado Harvesting?
Avocado harvesting is the process of removing avocados from the tree. Harvesting can be done by hand or by machine. The process begins after tree maturity, which takes three years after planting. The avocados are harvested when fully developed, typically from February to October.
However, this time frame depends on the type of avocado and the climate where it is grown. For example, the Hass avocado is typically harvested from November to December in California, while in Mexico, most avocado-producing areas can produce it throughout the year.
Nevertheless, the main goals of avocado harvesting are to avoid damage to the fruit, reduce labor costs, and improve yield. Maintaining avocado quality and preventing fruit loss are top priorities during harvesting.
What are the Different Methods of Avocado Harvesting?
There are two main methods of avocado harvesting; hand picking and machine picking. A farmer’s harvesting method will depend on their individual needs and preferences. However, both ways have their unique set of benefits and drawbacks.
Hand-picking is physically picking the avocados off the tree by hand, and it’s mostly common among small-scale farmers. The process is done by workers who scale the trees and pick the ready avocados. The main benefit of hand-picking is that it allows farmers to be more selective with harvested avocados. This ensures that only the best quality avocados are picked and sent to market. The main drawback of hand-picking is that it is slow and labor-intensive.
On the other hand, machine picking requires a piece of machinery to harvest avocados. The hydraulic harvesting machine has a large arm attached to a vehicle with enough room for one harvester and space for the harvested fruit. It is driven through the avocado Orchard and lifts the harvester to the required height, enabling them to pick the avocados off the trees quickly. The main benefit of machine picking is that it is much faster than hand picking. This allows farmers to harvest more avocados in a shorter period.
Machine harvesting is also ideal for farmers who have a large Orchard to harvest. The main drawback of machine picking is that it can damage the trees and the avocados. This can cause the avocados to be of lower quality and not as desirable to consumers if not done with care.
Also, Read; Avocado Farming; All You Need to Know
How to Tell if Avocado is Ready For Harvest
For avo-veteran, telling if an avocado is ready for harvest is a no-brainer. A simple look at the fruit will tell if it’s ripe or not. However, this process can be tricky for first-time avocado growers. Here are some tips:
1. Check the color
The fruit color is the first giveaway. Unripe avocados are green, while ripe ones have a deep purple or black hue. However, this isn’t always a foolproof method, as some varieties of avocados can stay green even when they’re ripe.
2. Tree Flowering
The next way to tell if an avocado is ripe is by checking the tree. If it’s flowering, there’s a high chance that the fruits are ready to be harvested.
3. The Size
Another method is through size. Mature avocados are bigger and heavier than premature ones. Avoid picking an avocado that has not yet attained the market size. This will avoid compromising the quality of your harvest.
4. Check for Dry Matter
Checking for dry matter is a more technical way of testing ripeness. It’s done by taking a fruit sample and measuring its dry matter content. The ideal dry matter for avocado is around 20-22%.
5. Floating Test
The floating test is probably the most popular way of testing for ripeness. The fruit is placed in a bucket of water. Fruits that float on the surface when immersed in water are usually mature. On the other hand, fruits that float below or sink are immature.
Also, Read; Avocado Farming in East Africa
Avocado Harvesting; Step-by-Step
Now for the long-awaited moment- harvesting time! Here is a step-by-step guide on how to harvest your avocados. But before we dive into that, here is a list of some harvesting equipment you’ll need.
- Ladder- You’ll need this to reach the higher avocados
- Clippers- These will be used to cut the avocados from the tree
- Gloves- These will protect your hands
- Crate- This is optional, but it helps to transport the avocados once they’re harvested
- Picking pole- This is also optional, but it can help reach the higher avocados
Now that you have all your equipment let’s get started!
Step 1; The first thing you need to do is pick a good day. You want to make sure that the weather is sunny and dry. Avocados are delicate fruit, so you don’t want to harvest them in wet or humid conditions.
Step 2; Once you’ve chosen a good day, it’s time to start climbing. Carefully make your way up the ladder and begin clipping the avocados from the tree. Be careful not to damage the fruit as you clip them.
Step 3; Now it’s time to start picking the avocados. You can either use your hands or a picking pole to do this. Gently twist the avocado from the stem and place it in your crate or basket. Repeat this until you’ve picked all the avocados you want.
Step 4; Once you’re done picking, carefully make your way down the ladder and enjoy your delicious avocados!
How to Handle Avocado After Harvesting
Proper handling of the fruit after harvest is essential to maintaining avocado quality. It can minimize bruising and other types of damage during shipping and storage. Below are a few tips for handling avocado fruit after harvesting.
1. Do not remove the stem/ stalk. The stem helps to protect the fruit from oxidizing.
2. Pass the avocado through cool water, gently grade according to size, and pack them in boxes.
3. Place the avocado in a carton or box lined with soft material.
4. Do not put avocados in direct contact with other fruits and vegetables
5. Store the avocado at cool temperatures, ideally between 4°C- 5°C for Hass variety and 6°C -8°C for other varieties.
6. Check the fruit regularly for signs of damage and decay.
Avocado harvesting is a process that requires time and effort, but the rewards are definitely worth it. With a little knowledge and the right tools, anyone can enjoy the delicious fruits of their labor. Hopefully, this article has provided you with everything you need to start. For any queries concerning avocado harvesting or avocado farming, contact our agronomist through our website for assistance. Happy harvesting!