Avocados differ from most fruits in that they ripen after harvest, making it difficult to determine when they are ready to pick. A 1962 study by University of Miami scientists found that Florida avocados will eventually soften if left on the tree, but like California avocados, it is best to harvest them as needed and allow them to ripen at room temperature. Avocados do not mature all at once, and do not need to be harvested immediately on maturity, drawing out the harvest period for a longer season. Fruit left on the tree at the end of the season will eventually fall.
Check for maturity once the fruits are full size. Pick one avocado, cutting it at the stem. Leave it at room temperature to ripen. If it remains hard or turns rubbery after 3 to 8 days, the fruit are not ready to harvest. Try again, picking one fruit at a time until the avocado successfully ripens on the kitchen counter.
Wear gloves to avoid damaging scratches on the fruit.
Pick the largest fruits first. Avocados mature at different rates, leaving a mixture of mature and immature fruits on the tree at the same time. Pick the avocados as needed; the remaining fruit will hold on the tree for some time.
Use clippers to remove the easily reached fruit, snipping the stem above the fruit. For higher fruit use a ladder or cherry picker to reach, or usea special long-handled tool with a sharp V shaped blade that cuts the stem, dropping the avocado into an attached bag. Shaking the tree or limb is also effective at removing mature fruit, but the fruit bruise easily in the fall.
Store fruit in a single layer and hold at 55 to 60 degrees for West Indian varieties, and above 40 degrees for Florida varieties.
Increase temperature to between 60 and 75 degrees when ripening is desired. Normal room temperature is ideal. Avocados ripen within two weeks on the kitchen counter.
Store ripe avocados in the refrigerator.
Things You Will Need
- Ladder, optional
- Forked avocado picker
- Fruit will still be hard when harvested.