The avocado is a medium-sized, evergreen tree in the laurel family, native to the Americas. It is widely cultivated for its large, fleshy fruit. The tree likely originated in the highland regions of south-central Mexico to Guatemala. Its fruit is botanically a large berry containing a single large seed. Avocado trees are partially self-pollinating, and are often propagated through grafting to maintain predictable fruit quality and quantity.
Avocados are cultivated in tropical and Mediterranean climates of many countries, with Mexico as the leading producer of avocados in 2019, supplying 32% of the world total. Avocado production is one of the most environmentally intensive fruits, using 70 litres of water per avocado, and over 400 grams of CO2 emissions.
Avocado has become one of the world’s trendiest foods, but they require an extraordinary amount of costly resources and labour in order to grow. As the poster child of millennial healthy eating, this superfood is now a mainstay for foodies everywhere. But have you noticed your avocado toast is costing more and more? Learn more in the VideoBusiness Insider
In major production regions like Chile, Mexico and California, the water demands for avocado puts pressure on overall water resources. Avocado production is also connected to other concerns, including environmental justice and human rights concerns, deforestation and connections of Mexican avocados with Organised crime. Climate change is expected to cause significant changes in the suitable growing zones for avocados, and put additional pressure due to heat waves and drought.
The fruit of domestic varieties has smooth, buttery, golden flesh when ripe. Depending on the variety, avocados have green, brown, purplish, or black skin, and may be pear-shaped, egg-shaped, or spherical. Commercially, the fruits are picked while immature, and ripened after harvesting. The high nutrient and fat contents and texture of avocado flesh are useful for different cuisines, including salads and vegetarian diets.
Learn about How Do Avocados Grow ?
The Cultivation of Avocado
As a subtropical species, avocados need a climate without frost and with little wind. High winds reduce the humidity, dehydrate the flowers, and affect pollination. When even a mild frost occurs, premature fruit drop may occur, although the ‘Hass’ cultivar can tolerate temperatures down to −1 °C. Several cold-hardy varieties are planted in the region of Gainesville, Florida, which survive temperatures as low as −6.5 °C (20 °F) with only minor leaf damage.
The trees also need well-aerated soils, ideally more than 1 m deep. According to information published by the Water Footprint Network, it takes an average of approximately 70 litres of applied fresh ground or surface water, not including rainfall or natural moisture in the soil, to grow one avocado (283 L/kg ). However, the amount of water needed depends on where it is grown; for example, in the main avocado-growing region of Chile, about 320 L of applied water are needed to grow one avocado (1,280 L/kg).
Increasing demand and production of avocados may cause water shortages in some avocado production areas, such as the Mexican state of Michoacán. Avocados may also cause environmental and socioeconomic impacts in major production areas, illegal deforestation, and water disputes.Water requirements for growing avocados are three times higher than for apples, and 18 times higher than for tomatoes.