Do you have a mature avocado tree that is bursting with ripe fruit? If so, you likely want to know how to harvest avocados.
Harvesting avocados is easy, but you must be gentle to avoid bruising the fruits. Keep reading to learn how to harvest ripe avocados for fresh eating or unripe avocados to enjoy later.
When to Harvest Avocados
Are you one of the lucky few to get a productive plant after growing an avocado tree from seed? Or did you start with a clipping or seedling and put in the time and care required for it to reach maturity?
It takes a long time to grow an avocado tree that fruits! The wait is well worth it once you start harvesting avocados from your own backyard.
When an avocado tree is mature, it will produce fruit throughout the harvesting season. You might even get more avocados than you know what to do with.
Unlike some other fruit trees like peaches, there is not a specific time that avocados all ripen at once. Instead, the fruits ripen on the tree from October through April.
If you live in a warm climate, you can collect avocados all season.
How to Harvest Avocados
You should understand a few critical differences between harvesting avocados for fresh eating and those for sale. Commercial farmers must harvest avocados before they are fully ripe.
Any avocado lover knows these creamy fruits have a tiny window of time in which they are ideal for eating. You end up with a mushy brown mess when you wait too long.
If avocado farmers waited for their fruits to ripen before harvesting, they couldn’t ship their final crops any significant distance.
If you’re growing avocado trees at home, you can probably get away with collecting them when they are fully ripe and ready to eat. Still, a couple of productive avocado trees will likely produce more fruit than you can eat by yourself.
You would benefit from learning how to harvest avocados at their mature yet unripe stage. This will allow you to store excess harvests, sell avocados at farmers’ markets, and share some of your bounty with friends and family.
Step 1: Check for Ripeness
The first thing you need to do is look for signs of maturity in the avocado fruit. You must harvest avocados when they are mature but still unripe.
You can detect maturity in many avocado varieties by noticing a change of coloring in the skin. Avocado skin will go from light green to dark green, purple, or black.
The Avocado Handbook from the University of California outlines a few key indicators of readiness that you can look for when harvesting avocados.
Step 2: Carefully Clip Stems
Once you spot mature avocados that are ready to be plucked from the tree, you must very carefully trim the stem where it meets the branch.
Avocados are delicate fruits, and they bruise very easily. For this reason, you might want to wear cotton gloves so you can handle them as gently as possible.
When you clip the avocado stem, try to minimize the stress you put on the avocado itself.
Some gardeners prefer to twist the avocado free from the stem gently. When done correctly, there is no discernible difference in bruising as the avocado matures.
Still, if you are new to harvesting avocados, you might want to stick with the cutting method at first. This will help minimize the risk of damaging ripe avocados.
Step 3: Gently Store Avocados
After you collect your avocados, you will want to store them carefully. There are straightforward ways to minimize bruising when storing avocados.
The Hoss Tools Over-the-Shoulder Harvesting Bucket is an excellent solution for harvesting avocados.
Instead of tossing avocados in a bucket and hoisting it down the ladder, you can gently place them in this sturdy harvesting bucket.
Avocados continue to ripen at room temperature. Check out our guide on how to ripen avocados for the best tips on getting them ready to eat quickly.
Choosing the Best Avocado Harvesting Tools
You will also need a heavy-duty gardening knife with a sharp edge. This ensures you can get the cleanest cuts when harvesting avocados.
Depending on your harvesting method, you might benefit from utilizing a long-handled harvesting basket.
The EVERSPROUT Harvesting Basket is also an excellent choice if you want a pre-assembled picker basket. Be careful when using a wire basket to harvest avocados, as the tines could damage the fruit.
When to Pick Avocados for Eating Fresh
If your avocado tree is new to fruiting, then it probably won’t be flooding you with ripe avocados for at least a few years.
In this case, you’ll probably want to collect avocados for fresh eating. Luckily, harvesting avocados to eat right away is very simple.
To get started, follow step one to check for ripeness. Instead of cutting the avocado away, use a long-handled harvesting basket.
Ripe avocados that are ready to peel and eat will simply fall into the basket. You can then bring them down and enjoy them in your favorite avocado recipes.
Consider adding this versatile fruit to your favorite savory and sweet recipes. You can enjoy the health benefits of eating avocados in any dish.
Do you pick avocados or let them fall?
When avocados are ripe enough to eat, they might fall off the tree on their own. It is best to harvest avocados before they get this mature.
When the fruit falls, it can get damaged by the impact of the ground. Any nicks in the skin can let in harmful bacteria from the soil.
Hungry wildlife might snatch up fallen avocados as a snack before you get a chance to collect them. It pays to check your avocado tree daily so you can harvest ripe avocados before they fall.
Why are my avocados falling off the tree?
Sometimes avocados left to ripen on the tree may fall off on their own accord. If this happens, it is a good indicator that it is time to harvest the remaining avocados from this tree.
Are your avocados dropping before they are ripe? Several different factors can cause this to happen.
The first thing you should do is conduct a soil test. This easy-to-use soil test kit will let you know if any severe nutrient deficiencies are impacting your avocado tree.
Is your avocado tree still reasonably young and small? If so, it simply may not be strong enough to support the weight of its fruit. In this case, remove the fruit as it develops and try again the following year.
Sometimes avocados fall off the tree early as part of the natural life cycle of avocados. Not all budding fruits make it to maturity, so don’t worry if a handful of immature avocados drop in early summer.
Harvesting Homegrown Avocados
We hope you found this guide on how to harvest avocados helpful.
Do you want to learn more about cultivating avocados? If so, you should check out our Avocado Trees page.
We are constantly updating it with guides that walk you through everything you need to know about growing, caring for, and harvesting avocados.