Avocado is popularly known as butter fruit because of its butter-like taste. Avocado grows well and bears fruit in Kerala’s climate. The fruit reached Kerala from Sri Lanka via Tamil Nadu. Avocado was first cultivated on a trial basis in the Regional Agricultural Research Station at Ambalavayal in Wayanad.
Mediterranean climate is suitable for avocado and so it can be cultivated in the hilly regions of Kerala. Loam soil is best suitable for planting avocado. However, avocado farming has not yet become popular here.
Avocado is an evergreen tree that grows up to 20 metres. Its branches grow horizontally and its roots do not grow deep into the ground.
The leaves are large and rough. The tender leaves are pale red in colour and turn dark green as they grow. The flower bunch emerges at the end of the branches.
Avocado fruits are large and fleshy and contains a pit. The fruit size varies from 5-20 cm according to the plant type. Fruit peel can be light green or pink and flesh is yellow or greenish yellow. The flesh is hard when the fruit is raw and becomes as soft as butter when it ripens.
Normally saplings are produced by sowing seeds. The seed takes about 50-100 days to sprout.
Artificial reproduction methods such as budding, layering and grafting also can be tried.
While planting the sapling, keep a distance of 6-12 metres between two saplings.
Holes to plant saplings should be in square shape with one metre side length and depth.
Avocado requires irrigation in the first year. It needs regular fertilising for a good yield.
It begins to bear fruit within five years of planting. However, grafted saplings are likely to bear fruit within four years.
Only ripe fruits have the natural aroma and softness. About 100-500 fruits can be harvested from one tree.
In south India, avocado blooms in the months of November-December and the fruit ripens by July-August.
The time since the blooming and the size of the fruits should be considered for harvesting.
Ripe fruits can be added in salads, milk shake, smoothie and ice creams.
The fruit contains high amount of energy, fat, vitamins, protein, potassium, phosphorous and magnesium.
As it contains only less than one percent sugar, it is an ideal fruit for the diabetic patients.
The oil extracted from avocado pit has no colour, fragrance or greasiness, but has the quality of olive oil. It is used for making cosmetic products.