Avocado (Persea americana Mill.) is considered one of the most nutritious fruits in the world. In the Philippines, however, it has not attained the popularity enjoyed by other fruits despite its early introduction in 1890. One reason for this is that it lacks that sweetness of such popular fruits as mango, banana and pineapple. To improve its taste to suit their palate, Filipinos eat avocado with sugar and milk. If Filipinos acquire the taste for the fruit, avocado can become a good market fruit and therefore source of income of small farmers in the countryside. Later, export market for fruit can be developed. Aside from the nutritional benefits that can be derived from the fruits, its various parts have several medicinal uses.
Avocado fruit is a rich source of Vitamin A and contains little amount of Vitamin B complex and E.
The ripe fruit can be eaten on hand and can be used in preparing salads, flavor for ice creams, filling for sandwiches and quick desserts.
Various parts of the crop have medicinal benefits. The leaves when boiled is a remedy for diarrhea. Pulp is used to hasten the formation of pus in wounds and even stimulate menstrual flow. Seeds can be smashed and be used as fillers for toothache.
There are a number of cultivars locally developed, (Table 1) however, avocado is botanically divided into three races: Mexican, West Indian and Guatemalan. List of Avocado Varieties, Approved by the Philippine National Seed Industry Council.
- NSIC 95-Av-02 (Parker) – Prolific yielder, (500-700 fruits/season) bear fruit both during the late season & off season; fruit of excellent eating quality, possessing flesh texture (smooth & firm) with scanty fiber with flavor buttery & nutty; high edible portion of 87.0%. a fruit weighs 561.4 g
- NSIC 97-Av-03 (RCF Morado) – Yield, 300-400 fruits/season. Significant small seed (about 9% of the total fruit weight skin easily peels off; testa does not adhere to the flesh with high edible portion (80.8%). A fruit weighs 391.5 g
1. Mexican Race – the leaves are aniso-scented, small and sharp at the apex. The seed is large with thin coats, either separated or adhering to the cotyledons. The surface of the cotyledons is smooth. The fruits are small with smooth rind adhering to the pulp which are purplish black in color.
The Mexican race is very resistant to cold, heat and low humidity but least tolerant to soil salinity. Different varieties of Mexican race had been introduced into the Philippines and that include â€œGantherâ€, â€œGottriedâ€, â€œNorthropâ€ and â€œPuobla.â€
2. West Indian Race – there is no aniso-scent of foliage. The fruit varies in sizes and has poor shipping quality. The skin is thin, smooth and leathery. The seed is relatively large and often loose in the cavity. The seedcoat is separated and the cotyledons are rough on surface. The fruit stem is short and has a unique “nailhead” configuration on the fruit point of attachment. It is least tolerant to low humidity and can stand soil salinity. The varieties that belong to West Indian race are: Family, Pollock, Cardinal, Wester, Waldin and Balwin.
- Family – the fruit is obovate, necked, large, smooth and glossy, deep purple to blood red with light yellow dots when ripe. The skin is thick and adheres closely to the pulp. The pulp is battery with creamy yellow, and with good flavor and quality. The seed is oblong to conical, large and loose, and the seedcoats adhere closely to the cotyledons.
- Pollock – the fruit of this West Indian variety is obovate to oblong, large, smooth, glossy, light green with longitudinal yellow lining and small greenish yellow dots. The skin is thick, the pulp is firm, smooth, fine in texture, deep yellow, has rich flavor and good eating quality. The seed is small, conical and loose.
- Cardinal – its fruit is bottleshaped, large (weighs about 370 g), and has smooth, glossy purple skin when ripe. The skin is medium thick and easily peels off. The flesh is thick, yellow relatively fibrous. The seeds are small, and loose in the cavity.
- Wester – the fruit is roundish oblate and medium-sized. The skin is smooth and glossy, leathery, deep purple with maroon russet dots when ripe, adhering closely to flesh. The flesh is firm, yellow, with few fibers and of rich flavor and of good quality. The seed is broadly ovate and large, and fits tightly in the cavity.
- Lopena – this is a local variety which also belongs to West Indian race. Its fruit is round, medium-sized (weighs about 300 g), and has rough, blackish, purple skin when ripe. The skin is medium thick and peels off easily. Flesh is medium thick, yellow and makes up about 70% of the whole fruit’s weight. The seed is small and tight in the cavity.
3. Guatemalan Race – this type has a thick rind producing dull, large and rough fruits. The seed is small and invariably tight fitting. The shell and the skin of this variety is thicker than the Mexican and West Indian varieties aside from the fact that it has a good shipping quality. The meat is drier than the meat of the West Indian variety. The surface of the cotyledons is smooth and the fruit is usually borned on the long stem. The varieties introduced locally are: Dickinson, Tertoh, Lyon, Taft and Tumin. Other introduced varieties are Sharpless, Blackman, Solano, Spinks and Taylor.
- Lyon – the fruit is oblong ovate and large weighing 800 g. The skin is green with fairly numerous, whitish tenticels, thick and brittle, and separated from flesh. The pulp is pale creamy yellow, tinged with green near the skin, buttery and nutly, has few fibers and has a good coating quality. The seed is very small and oblong and the seedcoats adhere to the cotyledons.
- Fuerte Variety – this is apparently a natural Mexican and Guatemalan
4. Other varieties that have been introduced into the Philippines and successfully growing are the following: Cyrus, Quality, Doughlas, Miami, Vegas, Cummins, De Leon, and Commodore.
- Cyrus – the fruit is oblong to pyriform and medium-sized. The skin is smooth, glossy, greenish yellow or yellowish green with yellow dots when ripe, membraneous and separated from flesh. The flesh is firm, smooth and fine in texture, yellow and of rich flavor and good quality. The seed is loose. The seedcoat adheres closely to the flesh and partially cracked at the apex.
- Quality – the fruit is obovate and small. The skin is smooth and glossy, greenish yellow with small maroon dots when ripe and adheres to the flesh. The flesh is white yellow, rather fibrous, and of good flavor and quality. The seed is oblong, small to medium-sized and tightly fitting in the cavity. The seedcoats adhere closely to the flesh and cotyledons.
- Doughlas – the fruit is obovate to pyriform, necked and medium-sized. The skin is smooth, glossy, deep purple with yellow dots when ripe, thin, adhering closely to flesh but easily peel off. The flesh is creamy yellow, firm with rich flavor and quality. The seed is broad conical to oval, loose and the seedcoats adhering closely to the cotyledons.
- Vega – this variety was introduced from Cuba in 1906. the fruit is obovate to broad pyriform and medium-sized. The skin is rough, glossy, yellowish green with yellowish dots when ripe, thick, separates from flesh coarse and brittle. The flesh is cream colored, with few fibers and rich flavor and quality. The seed is heart-shaped and fits tightly in the cavity. The seedcoats adhere closely to the flesh and cotyledons.
- Cummins – the fruit is roundish oblate and small to medium-sized. The skin is rough, slightly glossy, dark purple with yellow and russet sots when ripe, firm and separates readily from the flesh. The flesh is firm, greenish yellow to pale yellow, and of good flavor and excellent quality. The seed is broad, conical, medium-sized, and fits tightly in the cavity. The seedcoat adheres closely to the flesh and cotyledons.
- De Leon No. 1 – its fruit is ovoid, medium-sized (weighs about 330 g), and has round, purple skin when ripe. The skin is medium thick and peels off easily. Flesh is medium thick and yellowish in color. Seed is medium-sized and tight in the cavity.
- Commodore – the fruit is obovate to pyriform and small. The skin is glossy, deep purple with small yellow dots when ripe, coarsely granular, brittle and thin. The flesh is light yellow, rather fibrous, with rich flavor and fair quality. The seed is broad, conical, small, fitting, tightly in the cavity and with seedcoats adhering closely to the cotyledons.
Soil and Climatic Requirements
Soil – it can be grown over a wide range of soil types provided with adequate drainage. For best
production, deep, fertile, well-drained soils, particularly sandy or alluvial loam soils and have a pH
of neutral or slightly acid are suited for avocado.
Climate – a climate with alternating wet and dry season and with minimum annual rainfall
requirement of 750 – 1,000 mm is recommended.
It does not thrive well in places exposed to strong, excessively hot and dry winds.
- West Indian Varieties – are very tender and are adapted to low and medium elevations up to 1,000 m above sea level.
- Mexican Varieties – are the hardiest with respect to cold weather and can grow at elevations of 1,500 – 3,000 m above sea level.
- Guatemalan Varieties – are intermediate and can grow at elevations of 1,000 – 2,000 m above sea level.
Generally, avocado can grow well from sea level to about 1,500 m in places with short or no dry season. Where dry season exceeds 4 to 5 months, irrigation is very important.
Seed Selection and Germination – seed used should be obtained from healthy and vigorous trees. Select large seeded fruits especially when intended for rootstocks to maintain seedlings quality. It is recommended to plant it at once. If in case it cannot be planted/propagated immediately, store it in the moist sand or sphagnum moss.
Seeds are sown with the pointed ends up and with about one-fourth of their length above soil level. Germination starts 2-3 weeks from planting or sowing.
Care of Seedlings – the seedlings planted in containers should be provided with temporary shade. Direct exposure to sunlight may injure the seeds and the emerging one. Water the seedlings regularly and if the need arises, spray it with the recommended dosages of pesticides to control pests.