Picking and harvesting the perfect avocados – Part 3
Picking and harvesting are important aspects when it comes to avocado farming. In order to run a profitable business, you’ll need to have an in-depth understanding of when and how to pick avocados. You can find all the harvesting equipment you will need on AgriMag.
Pick mature avocados
Avocados stay hard when they’re still on the tree. However, once they’re picked, they become soft and ready to eat. Avocados must be picked after they reach maturity otherwise it compromises the quality of the ripened fruit. Avos that are picked at the correct time ripen evenly with a skin that shows no signs of shrivelling. This ripened fruit boasts a buttery texture and the moisture content of the avocado is an important indication of whether it’s ready to be picked or not. A moisture content of 80% or less typically indicates that the avocado is ready to be picked.
Before harvesting starts, a process should be undertaken to assess the maturity of the fruit. Once the avocados have reached the size that is typical of maturity for their type, you can collect a sample of the fruit. Keep the avocados at room temperature until they become ripe. You can check that the avocados are ripe by pressing them softly with your finger. The samples should become ripe in 8 to 10 days after they’ve been picked. Their skins should not shrivel if they were picked after maturity. If the avocados don’t ripen within this timeframe, this test should be carried out again before harvesting commences. While it’s valuable to carry out this test, it’s important to note that knowing when to harvest comes with experience. The test can increase the accuracy of harvesting but it’s not full proof as the fruit on all the trees don’t reach maturity at exactly the same time.
Complete the harvesting process
Harvesting is an essential component of avocado farming. The avocados need to be handled gently to safeguard them against bruising. Packing should also be carried out with care. Fruits that are treated roughly become damaged, which decreases their value. Gloves should be worn to ensure that the harvester’s fingernails don’t damage the fruit and it’s advisable to cut the fruit from the trees with 10 to 15 mm of stalk to minimise the risk of any damage occurring. Once they’ve been picked, the avocados should be placed in groups of 10 to 15 in clean canvas bags. You’ll need a tripod ladder as well as a picking shoot to access fruit that is difficult to reach. Owning the correct equipment is vital as it ensures the safety of your staff.
Handle avocados with care
The fruit needs to be transported to market on the same day that it is harvested. If this isn’t possible, it can also be placed in cold storage. During the harvesting process, you’ll need to take the avocados from the canvas bags and place them in trays. These trays need to be transported carefully and kept in the shade. The trays can be covered with other empty trays if there is no shaded area to place them in during the transportation process. Don’t use a tarpaulin as a cover as this offers insufficient ventilation and can result in an increase in temperature.
Sort and package the fruit
Staff who handle the fruit should wear gloves and complete the sorting process on clean tables. The stems must be cut to lengths of 6 to 12 mm. The fruit then needs to be sorted according to their size and quality. Avos that have a consistent appearance without marks can be put aside for export. Once the fruit has been graded, it needs to be treated and packed into a box.
Cold storage is used during avocado farming. If the fruit is not sent to market on the day it is harvested, it needs to be kept at a low temperature. The decreased temperature delays the ripening process. While you’ll need to keep the fruit cool, extreme cold can cause damage. The ideal temperature for avocado storage is typically 5.5 °C.
Read our previous blogs for more info about avocado farming.
Now that you know everything from start to finish about avocado farming, you can find all your equipment on AgriMag and get going!