Do you think Avocado is a vegetable? Of course not. Botanically, it is a pear-shaped berry fruit. The Avocado (Persea americana) also called alligator pear (or aguacate) belongs to family Lauraceae. There are many varieties of Avocado is available according to their size, color, and texture. All of them are native to the tropical climate.
Avocado’s popularity extends to its rich creamy, velvety texture and nutty flavor. By the time of harvesting, avocados have a green and yellow soft buttery flesh. They are extremely popular as toast topping, salad, and dessert.
Researchers found that Avocado originally domesticated in tropical America. Until 1900, Aguacate was a fruit that did not pay special attention. But horticulturists discovered the simplicity of grafted tree production. Since then, the Aguacate industry becomes popular day by day. Top commercial producers are Mexico, Chile, Indonesia, Colombia, Hawaii, South Africa, Australia, Brazil, and some Mediterranean countries.
Morphology of Avocado
The avocado tree is a tall tree. When considering the shape of fruit varies from round to pear-shaped with a long slender neck, and color varies from green to dark purple. It is a climacteric fruit. The seed of Aguacate is a large round shape single seed. This has a special characteristic, which is no ripen on the tree.
Leaves are alternative arranged leaves about 12-25cm long. Flowers are small inconspicuous greenish-yellow color. There are two types of flowers which facilitate cross-pollination. Those are Type A and type B. Hass, Gwen, Pinkerton, and Reed varieties have to type A flowers, and Fuerte, Bacon, and Ettinger have type B flowers.
Types of Avocado
Avocado divided into three main groups. Those are Mexican (Persea Americana variety drymifolia) West Indian (Persea Americana variety Americana) and Guatemalensis (Persea Americana variety guatemalensis).
Mexican and Guatemalan types are origin in high in the mountain range. West Indian type origin is in low lying areas. Mexican variety is native to Mexico which, growing in a too cold area. It is easily can identify by the unique smell of its leaves when crushed. Fruits are small or medium in size. The fat amount is relatively high.
Hass cultivar is the most common cultivar of avocado and commonly known as a varietal type of avocado. It is a hybrid Guatemalan type. This cultivar grows throughout the year and contributes 80% of world production. The tree is medium size, and the fruit is oval shape.
Generally, the fruit of Hass avocado is dark green with black pebbled with thick skin. The Hass avocado is the most delicious cultivar and quite rich in oil. Especial character is fruit skin has changed from green to dark purplish-black. Compare to other varieties, Hass ripen more slowly. Also, the inner part of the Hass is white-green color.
Bacon avocado is developed by a farmer named James Bacon in 1954. November to March is the usual growing season. The tree is medium size, and the fruit is oval-shaped with smooth green color skin which has bright yellow spots.
The inner part is yellow-green color and has a creamy texture. The bacon avocado contains less oil than Hass avocado. When it ripens fruit skin remains green color but becomes darker.
This variety is a Mexican-Guatemalan hybrid. The meaning of Fuerte is, strong in Spanish. It can survive under severe frozen conditions. Fuerte is a pearl-shaped medium-sized fruit that is a little bigger than Hass avocado. Skin is green with lightly bumpy with yellow dots. When Fuerte’s mature skin becomes slightly dull green.
The flesh is creamy, pale yellow, and it is rich in oil. Also, it is extremely delicious than others. Mostly cultivated in California and season is from November to June. The Fuerte tree is large and spreading.
Reed avocado is one of the most famous and known varieties of avocado. This is a Guatemalan type. The fruit is large round shape and skin is green with slightly pebbled. In fact, the flesh of the reed avocado is golden yellow and it is very easy to peel. Skin remains green when it ripens.
Choquette avocado is known as giant avocado that is a hybrid of Guatemalan and West Indian types. This variety is native to South Florida. It has big oval shape fruit with bright green skin and green is remain when it ripens. There is a rich creamy flavor with smooth flesh. The harvesting season is June to March.
Gwen avocado fruit is round, slightly large than Hass avocado. Fruit skin is thick and pebble and color remain green when ripen. This cultivar is a dwarf variety. Inner part flesh is creamy, and golden green with plenty of oil. It is delicious avocado that can use as alternatives to Hass due to the similarity of the taste.
Native to Central America. Hybrid of Guatemalan and West Indian types. Pear-shaped with large glossy bright green fruits are available. A special characteristic is tolerant in frost conditions.
This variety is a small dwarf, bushy, evergreen plant. Cleopatra avocado is relatively new to the consumer market. Medium-sized pear-shaped fruits are formed. The skin color of the fruit is black with shine and turn in to black during ripening. There are yellow creamy flesh available. The fruit is relatively large than Hass avocado.
Brogden is a hybrid of Mexican and West Indian types. This variety is extremely resistant to cold conditions. Pear-shaped fruits are available. Fruit skin is thin and dark purple which turns in to black while ripening and the flesh is yellow.
A Guatemalan hybrid that can tolerate under cold environment. Pinkerton fruit is large, elongated pear-shaped and skin is green, slightly pebbled, and moderately thick. The inner flesh is smooth and creamy that contains high oil contains. When Pinkerton mature, the skin remains green, and the tree is relatively small.
In general, avocadoes are grown in tropical and subtropical humid areas. Therefore, avocado plants are intolerant in warm, dry wind, and frost conditions. The avocado species mentioned above have their own specific climatic requirement due to their origin.
- Mexican type
The cold subtropical mountainous region of Mexico is home to Mexican type avocado. The optimum temperature required for this type of avocado to grow is 20°C to 24°C. A mature tree can withstand a temperature of -4°C to -5°C. Sufficient moisture range for the tree is 45%-60%
- Guatemalan type
Tropical highlands with the cold climate in Guatemala is the place that originates Guatemalan type avocado. Those can grow without too much heat or humidity. Mature trees can tolerate light frost below -2°C but, flowers are sensitive to frost. Humid should be above 65%.
- West Indian type
Humid, tropical lowland of Central America are home to West Indian type avocado. But, today, this type of avocado cultivate successfully in dry, humid regions also. West India Avocado is extremely sensitive to frost as well as drought. The proper temperature range for growth is 25°C to 28°C. Generally, over 60% of humidity is required.
Soil is very important in any crop. The same is true for avocado. Generally, avocado required loose well-aerated soil. Those plants tolerate both acidic and alkaline soil. Soil pH should be 5.5 to 7. Avocado can grow under high to moderate water holding capacity. But intolerant for inundate conditions. The field required a proper drainage system.
Avocados can be propagated by seeds. The viability of the seed may be lost in one month. It takes approximately 4-6 weeks for a fresh seed to germinate. Adequate lighting and ventilation should be provided to the nurseries. It takes 4-6 years to bear fruit after planting, and then it lasts for 50 years or more.
Field spacing of avocados depends on avocado species and soil conditions. A 25 ×25 ft spacing is sufficient in light soil. But deep rich soil requires at least a 35×35 ft gap. If the plants are very close, the branches touch each other after maturity and will die immediately.
Although avocado flowers are tiny, pollinated by pollen insects such as bees. If the orchard lacking bees and other pollinators, it is recommended to place a few beehives (2 to 10 per hectare) to facilitate pollination.
Fertilizer application is important but it depends on the results of proper soil and leaf analysis. Usually, a small amount of fertilizer should be applied every two months and gradually increased until its fruit formation.
Nitrogen, Boron, Calcium, and Zinc are the crucial nutrient in avocados. Nitrogen encourages the growth of the tree as well as maintain canopy health. Boron is the contributor to the fruit set. The best time to apply Boron base fertilizer is the early flowering and during flowering. Calcium is important for fruit quality. Zinc is an important trace element.
Training and pruning
To regulate the canopy size of trees, little pruning is required. By pruning unwanted branches and root may improve the quality of the tree. Without canopy management, the quality of fruits will be reduced.
Providing adequate water to the tree throughout the year helps to maintain soil moisture and facilitate nutrient intake. As mentioned earlier, the plant can withstand submerged conditions. If the water is not sufficient, the tree may face various difficulties. It can cause early flowering and poor fruit formation, reducing the fruit size as well as the quality of the fruit.
But excessive watering can cause the tree to lose it’s vigorous, severely infect phytophthora root rot and increase the risk of nutrient imbalance in the tree.
Pest and diseases
Like all other crops, avocado can also cause pests and diseases. The tree is susceptible to bacteria, viruses, fungi, and nutritional diseases and those diseases affect all parts of the tree. The most common bacterial diseases are crown gall and bacterial fruit spots. Sun blotch avocado is the most common viral disease that affects avocado. Anthracnose, leaf spot, black mildew, and root rot are the most common fungal diseases.
No major insects are reported for avocados and the avocado leaf roller and avocado thrips are somewhat damaged.
Maturity and harvesting
Avocados cannot ripen in the tree because of an inhibitor in the fruit stem. The largest fruits should be selected first when harvesting. Mature fruits begin to ripen in 1–2 weeks at room temperature after harvesting. Harvested premature fruits cannot ripen and are rubbery, ugly, and faded.
According to the variety of avocado, there are purple or green color fruits. The color change can be observed to determine the maturity of the fruit. Purple color varieties change the fruit skin color from purple to maroon. Just like that green color fruits change color from green to yellow during fruit maturity.
Nutrient content of Avocado
Our body needs a lot of essential nutrients, and Aguacate is rich in it. Avocado is rich in protein, vitamin B12, Niacin, potassium, vitamin C, and carbohydrate. Generally aguacate contains at least 11 vitamins and 14 minerals. But most people refrain from eating aguacate, believing that aguacate containing too many calories and cholesterol.
In 100g of aguacate contain 670 kilo of energy, 8.5 grams of carbohydrate, and 15 grams of fat. Furthermore, aguacate contains a significant amount of magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, potassium, and vitamin A, K, B5, and B6. What is special is that aguacate has no cholesterol content and only a small amount of saturated fat.
Alligator or avocados are more potassium-rich than fruit like a banana. This is fat-rich fruit. In fact, aguacate provides 77% of the calories. Oleic acid, an unsaturated fatty acid content in aguacate. This is good for the body and reduces inflammation and cancer risk. Aguacate is rich in fiber that is not digestible can have many health benefits, including weight loss and control of unnecessary rise in blood sugar level.
Health benefits of aguacate
Lowers cholesterol level
Eating avocados daily helps to lower cholesterol. This also reduces the triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels in the blood. The aguacate contains unsaturated fatty acid which leads to reduce the risk of heart disease. Currently, doctors recommended unsaturated fatty acids is better than saturated fatty acids for human health. Also, studies have found that unsaturated fatty acids help to control blood pressure and protect against heart disease. Furthermore, oleic acid and Linoleic acid in aguacate help to prevent cholesterol.
May help to prevent cancer
Cancer is a self-inflicted disease or disease from progeny. However avocado’s antioxidant properties improve body immunity, so they can kill cancer cells. Flavonol is an antioxidant compound contained in aguacate seed and ideal for cancer patients. Researchers found Avocatin B, a compound extract from aguacate have the ability to destroy leukemia cells. Also, aguacate has a phytochemical plant compound that has the potential to control the cancer cell.
Good for brain
The fruit is rich in oleic acid and omega-9 fatty acids. Researchers found this type of acid can boost memory. Also, contain a large amount of mono-saturated fatty acid. Those help to protect brain cells. Doctors recommended aguacate for patients suffer neurological disorders like epilepsy. Because early mentioned fatty acids have the neuroprotective ability.
Help to reduce weight loss
When you eat an aguacate fruit per meal you felt 23% more satisfied. So it reduces having a large meal. So contain a high amount of fiber. All those may lead to lost weight.
Arthritis relieves pain
Studies found the main ingredient of aguacate can cure the patient with arthritis of the knee. Generally, if people eat half of the aguacate at a time, it will provide 15% of the adult daily vitamin K requirement. This nutrient can improve bone density and also prevent fractures.
Keep your eye healthy
The aguacate is a rich source of antioxidants, vitamin E and carotenoids, Lutein and Zeaxanthin. All of them are helping to maintain eye health and also can improve the molecular pigment of the eye. Carotenoids prevent contact lenses degeneration.
Products of Avocado
Fruit of Avocado is oil-rich and it contributes to a large portion of nutrition. Avocado oil is an extract from the fleshy pulp of the fruit. This can use as an ingredient of other food or as a cooking oil. It is a great source of essential fatty acid, antioxidants, minerals, and Vitamin E. Usually, avocado oil contains 75% of unsaturated fatty acids. Indeed, avocado’s most of the nutrients in avocado, have several times greater than other fruits and the important thing is all are remain in the oil. Due to variation among avocado cultivars, oil flavor may differ. As an example Hass, avocado has grassy- butter-like flavor.
Furthermore, avocado oil abundant with oleic acid and omega 9 fatty acid. Studies found that avocado oil reduces body cholesterol as well as improve heart health by reducing blood pressure. Also, avocado oil contains lutein, an antioxidant that helps to maintain eye health. Consuming plenty of avocado oil may reduce the risk of cataracts. Remember, lutein does not produce in your body, must intake from a meal.
This helps to improve the skin as well as accelerate wound healing. Also, use as cosmetics because of its regenerative and moisturizing properties. Not only that, but this also helps to reduce the symptoms of arthritis.
What is the best combination with chips or tacos? Indeed it is guacamole. In any occasion, guacamole can take the main part of the meal. Guacamole is a creamy, avocado- base dip especially goes through Mexican food.
After all, it is not wrong to call avocados, one of the most popular fruit in today’s world. When it comes to everything about avocado, the morphology of avocado, varieties of avocado, agronomic practices, and health benefits of avocado are prominent.
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