Mexican Tropical Fruits - Avocado


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AVOCADOS

Per capita consumption of avocados in Mexico is approximately 22 lbs. a year and Mexico is the largest producer of avocados in the world, yet it does not have a strong export market for its avocados. Part of the reason is that most of its production is not of export quality -- this is often due to the fact that many producers choose not to produce fruit of specific appearance and quality since it is easier to produce for the domestic market 

Varieties
There are two major varieties of avocados namely: Fuerte and Hass.  Fuerte is green when ripe and is mostly oval shaped. Hass is medium sized and rounded and turn to color purple on ripening. 

Fuerte Variety


This fruit is pear shaped and is sweet to taste. Its skin is green in color whereas it is creamy to pale green inside. It mostly grows to a large or medium size. This variety of avocado remains green even when ripe but yields to pressure

Hass Variety


 

This variety is round in shape. It is easily recognised by its skin which turns to purple when ripe. Its flesh is creamy in color. When ripe the fruit yield to pressure. This variety is available in Kenya throughout the year.

Other varieties include: - bacon, duke, creamhart, anaheim, ganter, gwen, jim, lula, lyon, mexicola, nabal, queen etc. 

Altitude
Avocados are grown in altitudes from 1300 to 2100 metres above sea level 

Rainfall
Avocados require a well distributed rainfall of 1,200 mm for optimal production with a minimum of 700 mm. 

Temperature
Avocados thrive in temperatures between 14oC and 24oC. High temperature above 30oC destroys the fruit

Soils and Soil PH
Avocados require well aerated soils preferably loam soils. The soils should also be well drained as water logging affects the crop. The optimal soil PH for avocados ranges from slightly acidic to slightly alkaline i.e. PH range of between 6.0 to 8.0

Areas Grown
Most avocados are produced in the state of Michoacan in west central Mexico

Planting
Avocados are first planted in nurseries as seedlings before being transplanted to the field. Its is important to ensure that before transplanting, the plants are disease and pest free. The field for planting should be well prepared well before the coming of the rainy season. Planting holes of 60cm by 60cm by 60cm should be adequate whereas the spacing should be 9m*9m*9m. 120 grams of Double Super Phosphate (DSP) or Triple Super Phosphate should be mixed with manure and soil before transplanting 

Mulching
Mulching should be done to conserve moisture. Its is recommended to use well dried grass and to ensure that it is pest free. 

Weeding
Weeding around the trees should be done to keep the farm clean. 

Pruning
Regular pruning is required in order to remove suckers from the rootstock, and diseased and broken branches. Good pruning ensures that only strong branches capable of producing mature and good quality fruit thrive. Staking should be done for those branches growing horizontally in order to prevent them from breaking.

Intercropping
During the first three years when the tree is still small, intercropping may be done with other crops such as peas, cabbages, etc but this should be discontinued when the trees grow big. 

Pollination
Pollination of Avocados is by insects especially the bees so it is advisable for farmers to keep beehives in the field. 

Diseases
Several diseases attack Avocados but the most common ones are Cercospora and Anthracnose. Cercospora is characterized by leaves and fruits with purple spots that later become large and black. This disease is treated using Dithianon, Propineb or Metiram. Small brown spots on leaves, which later become large, on the other hand characterize Anthracnose. Control is by use of Mancozeb, Benomyl and Dithion. 

Harvesting and Yields
Harvesting may start after three years of the tree growth period depending on the variety. It is important to know the varieties before determining the harvest time because some varieties do not change color on maturity. The harvesting period for Avocados in Kenya is from April to September. The Yield of Avocado tree ranges from 230 to 320kg of fruit per tree per year or 7.5 to 11 tonnes per hectare. 

 
 
 
 

AVOCADO

B/W sketch

Persea species

Lauraceae

Common Name: Avocado, Alligator Pear (English); Aguacate, Palta (Spanish)

Origin: The avocado probably originated in southern Mexico but was cultivated from the Rio Grande to central Peru before the arrival of Europeans.

Species: Guatemalan (Persea nubigena var. guatamalensis L. Wms.), Mexican (P. americana var. drymifolia Blake), West Indian (P. americana Mill. var. americana). Hybrid forms exist between all three types.

Related species: Coyo (Persea schiedeana Nees), Anay (Beilschmiedia anay Kosterm)

Adaptation: Avocados do well in the mild-winter areas of California, Florida and Hawaii. Some hardier varieties can be grown in the cooler parts of northern and inland California and along the Gulf Coast. The northern limits in California is approximately Cape Mendocino and Red Bluff. Avocados do best some distance from ocean influence but are not adapted to the desert interior. West Indian varieties thrive in humid, tropical climates and freeze at or near 32° F. Guatemalan types are native to cool, high-altitude tropics and are hardy 30 - 26° F. Mexican types are native to dry subtropical plateaus and thrive in a Mediterranean climate. They are hardy 24 - 19° F. Avocados need some protection from high winds which may break the branches. There are dwarf forms of avocados suitable for growing in containers. Avocados have been grown in California (Santa Barbara) since 1871.

DESCRIPTION

Growth Habit: The avocado is a dense, evergreen tree, shedding many leaves in early spring. It is fast growing and can with age reach 80 feet, although usually less, and generally branches to form a broad tree. Some cultivars are columnar, others selected for nearly prostrate form. One cultivar makes a good espalier. Growth is in frequent flushes during warm weather in southern regions with only one long flush per year in cooler areas. Injury to branches causes a secretion of dulcitol, a white, powdery sugar, at scars. Roots are coarse and greedy and will raise pavement with age. Grafted plants normally produce fruit within one to two years compared to 8 - 20 years for seedlings.

Foliage: Avocado leaves are alternate, glossy, elliptic and dark green with paler veins. They normally remain on the tree for 2 to 3 years. The leaves of West Indian varieties are scentless, while Guatemalan types are rarely anise-scented and have medicinal use. The leaves of Mexican types have a pronounced anise scent when crushed. The leaves are high in oils and slow to compost and may collect in mounds beneath trees.

Flowers: Avocado flowers appear in January - March before the first seasonal growth, in terminal panicles of 200 - 300 small yellow-green blooms. Each panicle will produce only one to three fruits. The flowers are perfect, but are either receptive to pollen in the morning and shed pollen the following afternoon (type A), or are receptive to pollen in the afternoon, and shed pollen the following morning (type B). About 5% of flowers are defective in form and sterile. Production is best with cross-pollination between types A and B. The flowers attract bees and hoverflies and pollination usually good except during cool weather. Off-season blooms may appear during the year and often set fruit. Some cultivars bloom and set fruit in alternate years.

Fruits: West Indian type avocados produce enormous, smooth round, glossy green fruits that are low in oil and weigh up to 2 pounds. Guatemalan types produce medium ovoid or pear-shaped, pebbled green fruits that turn blackish-green when ripe. The fruit of Mexican varieties are small (6 - 10 ounces) with paper-thin skins that turn glossy green or black when ripe. The flesh of avocados is deep green near the skin, becoming yellowish nearer the single large, inedible ovoid seed. The flesh is hard when harvested but softens to a buttery texture. Wind-caused abrasion can scar the skin, forming cracks which extend into the flesh. "Cukes" are seedless, pickle-shaped fruits. Off-season fruit should not be harvested with the main crop, but left on the tree to mature. Seeds may sprout within an avocado when it is over-mature, causing internal molds and breakdown. High in monosaturates, the oil content of avocados is second only to olives among fruits, and sometimes greater. Clinical feeding studies in humans have shown that avocado oil can reduce blood cholesterol.

CULTURE

Location: Avocados will grow in shade and between buildings, but are productive only in full sun. The roots are highly competitive and will choke out nearby plants. The shade under the trees is too dense to garden under, and the constant litter can be annoying. In cooler areas plant the tree where it will receive sun during the winter. Give the tree plenty of room--up to 20 feet. The avocado is not suitable for hedgerow, but two or three trees can be planted in a single large hole to save garden space and enhance pollination. At the beach or in windy inland canyons, provide a windbreak of some sort. Once established the avocado is a fairly tough tree. Indoor trees need low night temperatures to induce bloom. Container plants should be moved outdoors with care. Whitewashing the trunk or branches will prevent sunburn.

Soil: Avocado trees like loose, decomposed granite or sandy loam best. They will not survive in locations with poor drainage. The trees grow well on hillsides and should never be planted in stream beds. They are tolerant of acid or alkaline soil. In containers use a planting mix combined with topsoil. Plastic containers should be avoided. It is also useful to plant the tub with annual flowers to reduce excess soil moisture and temperature. Container plants should be leached often to reduce salts.

Irrigation: Avocado trees may not need irrigation during the winter rainy season, but watch for prolonged mid-winter dry spells. Over irrigation can induce root which is the most common cause of avocado failure. To test to see if irrigation is necessary, dig a hole 9 inches deep and test the soil by squeezing. If it is moist (holds together), do not irrigate; if it crumbles in the hand, it may be watered. Watch soil moisture carefully at the end of the irrigating season. Never enter winter with wet soil. Avocados tolerate some salts, though they will show leaf tip burn and stunting of leaves. Deep irrigation will leach salt accumulation.

Fertilization: Commence feeding of young trees after one year of growth, using a balanced fertilizer, four times yearly. Older trees benefit from feeding with nitrogenous fertilizer applied in late winter and early summer. Yellowed leaves (chlorosis) indicate iron deficiency. This can usually be corrected by a chelated foliar spray of trace elements containing iron. Mature trees often also show a zinc deficiency.

Frost Protection: It is important to choose a cultivar that is hardy in your area. Mexican types are the best choice for colder regions. Plant above a slope for air drainage, or near the house for added protection. In youth, protect with rugs, towels and such spread overhead on a frame. For further protection heat with light bulbs and wrap the trunk with sponge foam. These measures also permit tender cultivars to become established in borderline locations; established trees are much hardier than young ones. The upper branches can also be top worked with hardy Mexican types, which will protect a more tender cultivar on lower branches, as well as serving as a pollinator. Harvest fruit before the frost season begins. Cold-damaged fruit turns black. Avocados are often in bloom at the time of frost and the flowers are killed, but the tree tends to rebloom. This is especially true of Mexican types.

Pruning: Columnar cultivars require pinching at early age to form a rounded tree. Others need no training. Current orchard practice avoids staking. The best results are obtained by fencing the tree with plastic mesh for the first two to three years. Container and dwarf trees will need constant staking. The skirts of avocado trees are sometimes trimmed to discourage rodents, otherwise the trees are usually never pruned. Branches exposed to sun by defoliation are extraordinarily susceptible to sunburn and will surely die. Such branches should always be whitewashed. It is better to avoid any pruning. Most cultivars are ill-adapted to espalier. They are too vigorous. Avocado fruit is self-thinning.

Propagation: Desired clonal rootstocks can be be propagated by a method known as the etiolation technique. The largest seed are planted in gallon cans and the seedlings are then grafted to a root rot tolerant clonal scion. When the stem of the graft reaches about 1/4 inch in diameter, the top is cut off leaving a whorl of buds just above the graft. A 4 inch band of black tar paper is formed into an extension of the can and filled with vermiculite and placed in a dark box with high temperature and humidity. When growth is some 3 - 4 inches above the vermiculite, the plant is removed into the light where the upper portion quickly assumes a green color. The tar paper collar is removed, the shoot is severed from the seed and then placed in flats where the cuttings are rooted in the conventional manner. Any seed may also be used for rootstock, but Mexican types make the strongest growth and are the most often used. Plant cleaned seeds as soon as they are ripe. The seedling plants are ready to bud the following year. Budding is done in January, when suitable buds are available. Larger stocks are worked by bark grafts in the spring. Scions are collected Dec - Jan after the buds are well-formed. Paint and cover the graft with a moistened plastic bag and place a vented paper bag over the whole.

Pests and diseases: Rats and squirrels will strip the fruit. Protect with tin trunk wraps. Leaf-rolling caterpillars (Tortrix and Amorbia) may destroy branch terminals. Avocado Brown Mite can be controlled by powdered sulfur. Six-spotted Mite is very harmful; even a small population can cause massive leaf shedding. A miticide may be required if natural predators are absent. Snails can be a problem in California.

Two fungi and one virus cause more damage than any pests. Dothiorella (Botryosphaeria ribis) canker infects the trunk, causing dead patches that spreads to maturing fruit, causing darkened, rancid smelling spots in the flesh. Flesh injury begins after harvest and is impossible to detect on outside. Mexican types are immune to trunk cankers but the fruit is not. The disease is rampant near the coast and has no economical control. Root Rot (Phytophthora cinnamomi) is a soil-borne fungus that infects many plants, including avocados. It is a major disease problem in California. Select disease-free, certified plants and avoid planting where avocados once grew or where soil drainage is poor. The disease is easily transported by equipment, tools and shoes from infected soils. Once a tree is infected (signs include yellowing and dropping leaves), there is little that can be done other than cut back on water. Sun Blotch is a viral disease that causes yellowed streaking of young stems, mottling and crinkling of new leaves and occasional deformation of the fruit. It also causes rectangular cracking and checking of the trunk, as if sunburned. It has no insect vector but is spread by use of infected scions, contaminated tools and roots grafted with adjacent trees. It is important to use virus-free propagating wood.

Harvest: The time of harvest depends upon the variety. Commercial standards requires fruit to reach 8% oil content before harvesting. Mexican types ripen in 6 - 8 months from bloom while Guatemalan types usually take 12 - 18 months. Fruits may continue enlarging on the tree even after maturity. Purple cultivars should be permitted to color fully before harvest. Guatemalan types can be stored firm, at 40 - 50° F. for up to six weeks. Mexican types discolor quickly and require immediate consumption.

Miscellaneous: Leaf and seed extracts have been used for a variety of medical application, including treatment of diarrhea and dysentery and as an antibiotic.

CULTIVARS

Anaheim

Origin Otto Keup, Anaheim, 1910. Guatemalan. Tree columnar, productive. Fruit very large, to 24 oz., elongated glossy green, seed small, oil 15%. Tenderest of cvs. for coast only. To 32° F. Season July.

Bacon

Origin James Bacon, Buena Park, 1954. Hybrid. Tree broad, productive. Fruit small to medium, to 12 oz., round-ovoid, smooth green. Flesh only fair, almost colorless,seed cavity molds rapidly. Hardy for Bay Area, Central Valley. To 25° F. Season December.

Creamhart

Origin Orton Englehart, Escondido,1969. Hybrid. Seedling of Reed. Tree open, upright, branching. Fruit medium, to 14 oz., skin green flesh extraordinarily pale,buttery, nearly fiberless. Not alternate bearing. To 30° F. Season April - July.

Duke

Origin Bangor (Oroville), 1912. Tree vigorous, open, resists wind. Fruit small, 12 oz., elongated pyriform, waxy green, skin paper-thin. Flesh excellent, oil 21%. Seeds commonly used for rootstocks, resist root rot. Extraordinarily hardy, recovers quickly from freeze, to 22° F. Season October

Fuerte

Origin Atlixco, Mexico, intro. Carl Schmidt, 1911. Hybrid. Tree open, spreading, tall. Fruit large to very large, 16 oz., elongated pyriform, skin dark green with numerous small raised pale spots, waxy bloom, skin thin. Flesh good, oil 18%, seed medium. Formerly standard cv. of California industry. Tends to bear in alternate years, unproductive near coast or in north. To 26° F. Season December.

Ganter

Origin Albert Rideout, Whittier, 1905. Mexican. Tree tall, spreading, open. Fruit small, to 8 oz., long pyriform, skin paper-thin, pale waxy green. Flesh good, oil 18%. Oldest avocado cv. in California. Quite hardy, for Central Valley floor and far north. To 23° F. Season October.

Gwen

Origin Riverside, Robert Whitsell, 1982, patented. Seedling of Hass. Tree dwarf, to 14 ft., low vigor. Fruit small, to 8 oz., a Hass look alike, elongated green, flesh good. Most productive of dwarf avocados, best dwarf for outdoor use, also for containers, greenhouse. Not hardy, to 30° F. Season February - October.

Hass

Origin Rudolph Hass, La Habra Heights, 1926. Seedling of Lyon. Guatemalan. Tree rather open, not tall. Fruit medium, to 12 oz., pyriform, skin thick, pebbled, coppery purple. Flesh good, oil 19%, seed fairly small. Currently the standard of the industry. To 26° F. Season July.

Jim

Origin John Reinecke, San Diego, 1939. Hybrid. Tree upright. Fruit small to medium, to 10 oz., olive green, with long neck, oil 12%. To 26° F. Season June.

Lula

Origin George Cellon, Miami, 1919. West Indian. Tree dense, broad, prolific. Fruit round, slightly pyriform, to 20 oz., slightly rough glossy green, oil 12%. Only West Indian type recommended for California, rather hardy, to 28° F. Season April.

Lyon

Origin R. Lyon, Hollywood, 1908. Central American. Tree columnar, slow growing, difficult to propagate, often scion incompatible. Fruit commonly over 24 oz., dark glossy green, rough, pyriform, oil 21%. High quality. Tender, to 30° F. Season April.

Mexicola

Origin Coolidge, Pasadena, 1910. Mexican. Tree tall and spreading, vigorous. Fruit small, 5 oz., round pyriform, skin paper-thin, purplish black, waxy bloom. Flesh highest quality, seed very large. Hardiest cv. known, seedlings useful as rootstocks in far north. Recovers rapidly from freeze. Defoliated at 20° F, trunk killed at 17° F. Season September.

Mexicola Grande

Seedling selection of Mexicola. Mexican. Tree tall and spreading similar to Mexicola. Fruit 15% - 25% larger than Mexicola and somewhat rounder in shape with better seed/flesh ratio. Skin paper-thin, purple-black. High quality flesh with high oil content. Hardy to about 18° F.

Murrieta Green

Origin Colima, Mexico, intro. by Juan Murrieta, 1910. Hybrid. Tree slow growing, easily trained. Fruit large, to 18 oz., oblate, green, resembling Fuerte. Flesh exceptional, oil 18%. Only cv. readily adaptable to espalier. For coast and intermediate. To 27° F. Season September.

Nabal

Origin Antigua, Guatemala, intro. by F.W. Popenoe, 1917. Tree dense, columnar. Fruit handsome, large pyriform, to 17 oz., green, skin resembles Fuerte. Flesh exceptionally high quality, oil 16%. Young trees require pinching to force low branching. Tends to bear alternate years. To 27° F. Season July.

Pinkerton

Origin John D. Pinkerton, Saticoy, 1972, patented. Guatemalan. Tree dense, productive. Fruit variable in size, 7 to 12 oz., skin thick, pebbled, green. To 30° F. Season November.

Queen

Origin Antigua, Guatemala, intro. by E.E. Knight, 1914. Guatemalan. Tree broad. Fruit exceptionally large, to 24 oz., elongated, purple, flesh excellent, oil 13%. Fairly hardy for large cv., worth trying in Bay Area. To 26° F. Season August.

Puebla

Origin Atlixco, Mexico, intro. by Carl Schmidt, 1911. Mexican. Tree broad, high branching. Fruit beautiful, medium to large, to 18 oz., ovoid, skin thin, lacquered maroon purple. Flesh excellent, oil 20%. Least hardy Mexican type, to 29° F. Season December.

Reed

Origin James S. Reed, Carlsbad, 1948. Hybrid. Tree columnar. Fruit large, to 15 oz., round, skin thick, pebbled, green. Flesh good. To 30° F. Season August.

Rincon

Origin Carlsbad, Sam Thompson, 1944. Hybrid. Tree small. Fruit small to medium, 10 oz., green, resembling Fuerte. Flesh good. For coast, Santa Barbara and Ventura. To 27° F. Season January.

Ryan

Origin Albert Rideout, Whittier, 1927. Hybrid. Tree low, spreading. Fruit medium, to 14 oz., elongated, otherwise resembles Hass, skin thick, pebbled, purple. Flesh good, oil 25%. For Inland Empire, Bay Area. To 26° F Season August.

Spinks

Origin E. Bradbury, Bradbury, 1911. Hybrid. Tree spreading. Fruit medium, to 15 oz., round with small neck, tangelo shaped. Lacquered, coppery purple, outstanding flavor, oil 16%. To 27° F. Season April.

Topa Topa

Origin E.S. Thatcher, Ojai, 1912. Mexican. Tree columnar, vigorous. Fruit handsome, elongated pyriform, small to medium, 8 oz., smooth dark purple with white waxy bloom. Skin paper-thin. Flesh rather poor, oil 15%, seed elongated. Seedlings commonly used for rootstocks. Hardy, for far north. To 23° F.

Whitsell

Origin Robert Whitsell, Riverside,1982, patented. Hybrid. Hass seedling. Tree dwarf, to 12 feet, low vigor. Fruit small, 6 oz., elongated Hass look alike. Flesh good. Bears in alternate years. For containers and greenhouse only, not hardy. To 30° F. February to October.

Wurtz (syn. Littlecado)

Origin Roy Wurtz, Encinitas, 1935. Hybrid. Tree prostrate, difficult to train, low vigor. Fruit dark green, medium, to 10 oz. For containers and greenhouse. To 26° F. Season July.

Zutano

Origin R.L. Ruitt, Fallbrook, 1926. Hybrid. Tree columnar. Fruit small to medium, to 10 oz. elongated smooth green, resembles Fuerte but inferior, has fibers. Hardy for Bay Area, Central Valley. To 25° F. Season November.

FURTHER READING

  • See generally: California Avocado Society Yearbook, 1915 to present.

  • Davenport, T.L. Avocado Flowering, Hort. Reviews 8: 257-289.

  • Koch, F.D. Avocado Grower's Handbook, Bonsall Publications, 1983.

  • Morton, Julia F. Fruits of Warm Climates. Creative Resources Systems, Inc. 1987. pp. 91-102.

  • Ortho Books. All About Citrus and Subtropical Fruits. Chevron Chemical Co. 1985. pp. 16-19

 
 
 

History of Avocados

It is evident from miscellaneous reports by Spanish Conquistadores that, at the time of the Spanish conquest, avocados were grown from northern Mexico south through Central America into north-western South America and south in the Andean region as far as Peru (where the avocado had been introduced shortly before the conquest), as well as into the Andean region of Venezuela.

The Aztecs used the avocado as a sex stimulant and the Aztec name for avocado was ahuacatl, meaning "testicle." In the pre-Incan city of Chanchan, archaeologists have unearthed a large water jar, dated around 900 A.D., in the shape of an avocado.

1518 - Martin Fernandez de Enciso (1470-1528), Spanish conquistador and cosmographer, wrote the first published record that describes the avocado in his book, Suma De Geografia Que Trata De Todas Las Partidas Del Mundo, as commonly grown near Santa Marta, Colombia. This was the first account in Spanish of the discoveries in the New World.

1519 -Spanish soldier of fortune Hernando Cortez (1485-1547) set foot in Mexico City, the first white man to do so. Cortez found that the avocado was a staple in the native diet

1526 - Fernandez de Oviedo (1478-1557), historian to the conquistadores, wrote the following on avocados trees he saw along the north coast of Colombia: "In the center of the fruit is a seed like a peeled chestnut. And between this and the rind is the part which is eaten, which is abundant, and is a paste similar to butter and of very good taste."

1550 - The Spanish name, Aguacate, was first used by Pedro de Cieza de Leon (1518-1554), Spanish conquistador and historian, in a journal of his travels written in 1550. He noted that at that time the avocado grew in Panama, Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru.

1554 - The first mention of the avocado as growing in Mexico, was made by Francisco Cervantes Salazar in 1554. In his book Crónica de la Nueva España (Chronicles of New Spain), he listed the avocado among fruits sold in the market of Tenochtitlan (the name for Mexico City at that time).

The Spanish conquistadors also discovered a unique use for the avocado seed. The seed yields a milky liquid that becomes red when exposed to air. The Spaniards found they could use this reddish brown or even blackish indelible liquid as ink to be used on documents. Some of these documents are still in existence today.

1672 -W. Hughes, physician to King Charles II of England, in his visit to Jamaica, wrote that the avocado was "One of the most rare and pleasant fruits of the island. It nourisheth and strengtheneth the body, corroborating the spirits and procuring lust exceedingly."

1700s - European sailors in the 1700s called it midshipman's butter because they liked to spread it on hardtack biscuits

1833 - Judge Henry Perrine planted the first avocado tree in Florida.

1856 -.The California State Agricultural Society Report for 1856 stated that Thomas J. White grew the avocado in Los Angeles.

1871 - In California, the first successful introduction of avocado trees was planted by Judge R. B. Ord of Santa Barbara, who secured the trees from Mexico in 1871.

1879 - The oldest living tree is found on the University of California, Berkeley campus and was planted in 1879.

1892 - In other southern California locations, avocados were planted by various people who introduced and planted seed from Mexico and Guatemala. In the early 1890's, Juan Murrieta of Los Angeles became interested in the avocado and imported a large amount of thick-skinned fruit from Atlixco, Mexico. He distributed some of the seeds of these fruits among his friends and planted the others. From this group of seedling trees, came a number of the varieties that first attracted attention as promising commercial fruits.

1895 - In 1895, Young Charles Delmonico and Ranhofer introduced New York to the "alligator pear." or avocado, which had been newly imported from South America. Ranhofer had known of the avocado -- he mentions the avocado in his book, The Epicurean, which he published the previous year -- but until 1895 he had been unable to secure a supply of the buttery fruit.

1911 - Frederick O. Popenoe, owner of the West Indian Gardens of Altadena, California, sent Carl Schmidt to Mexico (Mexico City, Puebla, and Atlixco) to search for avocados of outstanding quality and to locate the trees from which they came. Schmidt, who located what turned out to be the Fuerte as a dooryard tree in Atlixco, Mexico. Only one of the trees he brought back survived the great freeze of 1913 in California. This surviving tree was given the name Fuerte, Spanish for "vigorous." Schmidt said, "Two years later came the big freeze. In the spring when we began to take stock of damage, it was the Fuerte that came through and it was the only avocado that survived. It thus proved itself adaptable to our temperatures."

The Fuerte tree created California's avocado industry. Carl Schmidt was compelled to tell and retell the story of his fortuitous discovery of the Fuerte avocado. “Popenoe was a nut -- an imaginative, idealistic nut without which our nation would suffer and certainly make little progress."

From an article - All About Avocados