13 Nov 2020

Smooth Avocados

From Country Life, 9:44 pm on 13 November 2020

Cutting into avocados can be a lottery.

They hold so much promise. A twist of the halves can reveal uniform, creamy, olive-green flesh.

But sometimes they're destined straight for the compost bin.

They can be stringy, have brown spots or be disappointingly watery.

However Gisborne growers, David and Judi Grey, who have been growing and testing avocados for 50 years, have developed new varieties they say are perfect, every time.

"Never a dud, no never a dud," says David.

Judi says the green-skinned varieties; Titan, Eclipse and GreyStar have every attribute you could want in an avocado.

"They're a dense fruit, they are beautiful yellow colour, they are creamy, they're nutty and [have] no strings, no discolouration."

She says they are perfect restaurant avocado and peel cleanly every time. "Like a banana."

David says one of Hass' disadvantages is its skin.

"All those little bumps...get knocked around and shaved off. You see fruit in the supermarket which you wonder if it has rolled the last couple of hundred metres down the road."

The new varieties were identified when David planted 30 seeds from what is known as the 'Rolls Royce' of avocados - the Sharwill.

It is known to produce sensational fruit but not much of it.

However, three of the seedlings produced early and well and bore top quality fruit.

"You never know what you are going to get with a seedling," David says. "Mother Nature did the work, we just helped it along."

Gisborne's Riversun nursery is propagating the new avocados and one of David and Judi's neighbours is planting hundreds of one of the varieties.

Judi says they have trees in quarantine in Australia and a nursery owner there has told them she thinks one could become a 'world avocado'.

And Australia's largest grower of Bowen mangoes, who is also an avocado grower and researcher, thinks the new varieties have promise.

"She is looking further ahead than we ever had," says David. "Because she says Chinese [people] don't especially like black fruit and she sees a huge opportunity for a quality green-skinned avocado going in to China.

"We're sort of thinking if Australia shows a bit of interest, maybe the New Zealand industry will prick up its ears and say 'ahh what's going on over there?'."

The family has been part of a surprisingly long history of avocado growing in New Zealand.

David's grandfather planted avocados about the time of World War I.

His father imported the Hass avocado into New Zealand.

To learn more about David and Judi's orchard click here