Why Look Beyond Hass?
By Mary Lu Arpaia
The California avocado industry is dominated by a single variety, 'Hass'. Although this variety has some excellent attributes such as good eating quality, relatively high yields under favorable conditions and fairly reliable postharvest attributes the variety is also plagued by a number of problems. Some of these problems include small fruit size (especially as the tree ages); intolerance to extreme climatic conditions, alternate bearing and sensitivity to certain insect pests (greenhouse thrips, persea mite and avocado thrips). The introduction of more reliably producing varieties should help to stabilize production swings. Consistently heavier yields per acre can lower production costs per pound.The biodiversity resulting from a multi-variety industry should slow the spread of diseases and pests like Persea mite, avocado thrips and others that may well appear in the future. Two new avocado cultivars, 'Lamb Hass' and 'Sir Prize' have been recently patented and released by the University of California. The 'Lamb Hass' in particular shows promise as a new variety for the California industry. The tree has an upright growth habit, possibly more conductive for high density plantings and/or intensive canopy management, and also has demonstrated some apparent tolerance to the Persea mite. The fruit is 'Hass'-like in appearance and possibly will hold later into the season. We know less about the 'Sir Prize', but this cultivar may show potential as an alternative to the 'Zutano' for San Juaquin Valley growers.