Growing California Avocados
California Avocados are grown along the coast of central and southern California between San Luis Obispo and the Mexican border. This region is rich with weather micro climate's and a variety of suitable soil types for avocados. California avocados are harvested annually twelve months of the year, sending to market a handful of varieties including the popular Hass avocado. Due to their thick, pebbly skin, the fruit inside of a California Avocado is naturally protected, placing California Avocados amongst the lowest of all fruits and vegetables for pesticide use.
Hand Picking Avocados
Avocados are harvested by hand with the help of special shears called clippers. Using ladders up to 36 feet high and poles up to 14 feet long to reach the fruit in tall trees, pickers place the harvested fruit in large nylon bags fastened around their shoulders. Each bag holds 65 - 80 pounds of fruit. There are roughly 5000 family farmers growing and picking California Avocados on approximately 60,000 acres. After the avocados are hand clipped, they are carefully placed in large bins weighing up to 800 pounds. It is a very labor intensive process hand picking each avocado and bringing it to harvest.
Commercial Packing Californian Avocados
The picking bins are transferred by forklift, tractor or trailer from the grove to a large truck which picks up the fruit, hauling several bins at a time to the packing house. At the packing house, avocados are immediately put into cold storage for about 24 hours to remove the field heat and to preserve their quality. Then the pre-cooled fruit is ready for packing. Each bin of avocados is carefully placed on a conveyor belt, which gently tips over the bin, allowing the fruit to roll onto a grading belt, where graders hand check and sort the avocados by size. Once sorted, the avocados are gently brushed as they roll into packing tubs where they are hand packed into single or double layer cartons called lugs. The avocado count per lug indicates the size of avocados it holds.
Before the lugs are sealed, the avocados are checked one more time for quality. The sealed lugs are then organized by size and stacked onto pallets of 60 - 80 lugs each.
Commercial Shipment of California Avocados
Avocados are shipped from the packing house in refrigerated trucks. If they are being shipped internationally, they are placed in special atmosphere-controlled containers and sent by air freight or cargo ship. Once these strict quality and freshness procedures are complete, the avocados reach grocers around the country and are ready for purchase.