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Avocados and Frost in Europe

 
David Livingston
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http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/fruits/avocado/cold-tolerant-avocado-trees.htm
I have reading the above and it gives me hope of growing one of these here in Norther (ish ) France . Anyone else tried this in similar climes and anyone any idea where I could buy one of the named types here in europe ?

David
 
Charli Wilson
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I have no answers, but I would be interested in them! Now I have ideas I could maybe grow one in a pot and bring it in in Winter in the UK...

Charli
 
Burra Maluca
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I'm in Portugal, but we get some pretty hard frosts on occasion. The only named variety I can find here is Hass, but they are €20 a throw and I've lost them the couple of times I've tried. I'm currently experimenting growing plants from seed, any seed I can find, in the hope that some of the resulting seedlings will prove just a teeny bit more frost hardy than others. I have about a dozen which I kept in front of the house all winter, where they are protected from the worst of the frost but not all of it. I've planted some of them out, and will probably plant the others out in the autumn. Or earlier if I run out of pots for all the seedlings.

I know that there are various varieties, not available near here, that are *much* more frost hardy. If anyone out there reading this is growing a frost hardy variety and would be willing to try to get some seed to me, I'd absolutely love to hear from them!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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For those of us that want to grow our own Avocados, this information is very useful.

The name 'Avocado' originates from the Aztec name ahuacacuauhitl meaning testicle tree!
The avocado is a dense, evergreen tree, shedding many leaves in early spring. It is fast growing, and generally branches to form a broad tree. Some cultivars are columnar, others selected for nearly prostrate form. Growth is in frequent flushes during warm weather in southern regions with only one long flush per year in cooler areas.
Grafted plants normally produce fruit within one to two years compared to 8 - 20 years for seedlings.
Avocado flowers are crosspollinated which means that developing independent genetic lines is difficult. In fact, crosspollination is promoted in the flowers by the stigma of a flower being receptive to pollen prior to pollen being released from that same flower. Avocado trees produce thousands of flowers and only about one in 5000 sets fruit. Considering it originated from South American forests, the Avocado is remarkable in its ability to thrive under a broad range of environmental conditions. It needs water and no frost and prefers unleached, nonacid soils, sun, and dry air.
The flesh of avocados is deep green near the skin, becoming yellowish nearer the single large, inedible ovoid seed. The flesh is hard when harvested but softens to a buttery texture. Wind-caused abrasion can scar the skin, forming cracks which extend into the flesh. "Cukes" are seedless, pickle-shaped fruits. Off-season fruit should not be harvested with the main crop, but left on the tree to mature. Seeds may sprout within an avocado when it is over-mature, causing internal molds and breakdown.
High in monosaturates, the oil content of avocados is second only to olives among fruits, and sometimes greater. Clinical feeding studies in humans have shown that avocado oil can reduce blood cholesterol. The Avocado fruit is an important food in South America and is nutritious with high levels of mainly unsaturated oils, minerals, vitamins and reasonable levels of protein. The oil is evidently similar in composition to olive oil.

Types of Avocado

W - West Indian type avocados produce enormous, smooth round, glossy green fruits that are low in oil and weigh up to 2 pounds. They are summer- or fall-ripening. They have leathery, pliable, non-granular skin. The leaves are not aromatic. Grown in Florida, West Indies, Bahamas, Bermuda, and the tropics of the Old World. Not grown in California.

G - Guatemalan types produce medium ovoid or pear-shaped, pebbled green fruits that turn blackish-green when ripe. Guatemalan avocadoes are primarily winter and spring ripening. Skin varies from thin to very thick and is granular or gritty. The flesh is rich in flavor and relatively high in oil content. Grown in both Florida and California.

M - Mexican varieties - the fruit of are small (6 - 10 ounces) with paper-thin skins that turn glossy green or black when ripe. The tender skin clings to the flesh. The flesh has a high oil content, up to 30%. Leaves have a pronounced anise-like scent and are favored for cooking. The tree is more cold-resistant.


Here is a list of the cold hardy varieties of Avocado

I've listed them from most cold hard to least cold hardy
When it shows 15f for short period of time it means they can survive for a week of this temperature

Brazos Belle 15f for short periods of time
Brogdon 15f for short periods of time
Fantastic
Fuerte
Joey
Lila
Day
Golden
Mexicola Grande
Hall
Poncho

There are others but these are most of the really good ones for those of us that can see frosty days.

toptropicals.com is the place
 
David Livingston
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I think there is a real biz opportunity out there for someone to bring over to europe some of these cultivars plus some sweet potato cultivars and I am sure other stuff .

David
 
Burra Maluca
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Fuerte is one of the varieties listed as cold tolerant, and I sometimes see fuerte avocadoes in the supermarkert. You'll recognise me in a supermarket because I'm the one picking up the boxes of avocadoes trying to identify the variety. I have some seeds planted. I know the seedlings won't be 'pure' fuerte, but they might be something even more cold tolerant!
 
David Livingston
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I just read a french grafting forum where they stated that you could buy avocardo trees from Germany . but they gave no link or details anyone else come across this ?
 
Charli Wilson
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This site claims 'rare grafted avocado tree': http://www.rare-exotic-plants.co.uk/rarefruits.htm
It doesn't mention the variety and the cart doesn't work/website hasn't been updated in some time.

I've been looking for a while and I've never found anything in the UK. Importing plants from outside the EU is difficult though!
 
Burra Maluca
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I have my doubts about that site. It also says

A male and female specimen is required to enable the flowers to fertilize. 1x specimen @ £95.00, or £125.00 (Special end of season offer!) for both male and female trees.


That's not quite the way I think it works with avocado flowers, as far as I know. Too tired to try to summarise it, but this page explains it pretty well, and at length. avocado flowering basics

 
David Livingston
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I looked at some of the other plants . I have the suspicion the author knows less than me . Who sells un named types of fig tree ?
 
David Livingston
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My facebook buddies came up with these guys http://www.tropicaflore.com/avocatier/

Its a start

David
 
David Livingston
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and this http://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2F30r8p93i26e4rjv9qo3ulokei.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2013%2F09%2FAvocados-For-SA1.pdf&h=BAQHUFGga
 
Shaz Jameson
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If any of you go ahead with this, coudl you report back your progress/success/failures?

I'm wondering whether it would be possible to grow in a pot and bring it indoors to my super sunny south-facing windowsill in the wintertime.

What I wonder is if it's worth it considering Bryant's comment above
Avocado trees produce thousands of flowers and only about one in 5000 sets fruit.


That said I am still a beginner with fruit trees.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Avocado trees are definitely worth it. I have a friend that is an avocado grower in California, his trees are always full of fruits.

The one in five thousand is true but the evidence shows that this figure took in both male flowers and female flowers.
Both flowers are found on the same tree and actually even the same fruit stalk. The male flowers open first then later in the day the female flowers open.
Bees do most of the pollination since they won't come until the female flowers open, the female flowers have nectar, the males have the pollen, the bees gather the pollen then when the female flowers open they dive in for the nectar.
This results in each fruit stalk getting at least two female flowers fertilized.

Avocado trees usually will hold on to one fruit per fruit stalk.
Seed grown trees are very much like pecan trees in the age to bear fruits.
I have one Hass growing from seed now as an experiment, I'm hoping to cross it in a few years when it gets the first flush of flowers.
 
Shaz Jameson
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Thank you for the helpful and detailed clarification Bryant, there is hope after all!
 
John Friedrich
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North American climates are not entirely comparable with Europe, but my father grew one from seed successfully on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi (technically Temperate but almost Sub-Tropical) by erecting a flimsy greenhouse of a single sheet of clear plastic on PVC frames before mid-winter.

Also further north in Raleigh NC (in the winter comparable to Central France, far warmer in the summer) I knew of a family that had a tall tree, they wrapped it entirely with pink house-insulation material every winter. Not practical commercially, but I have wanted to try it myself.
 
Dan alan
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I have been working on growing avocados. Even the hall die in our mild winters, a low of 20° only at night and never more than a week. It appears if you leave them in pots and bring them in for winter nights for the first year or two then plant out after they develop true bark on the truck, they will then survive.
 
Steven Edholm
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That article says very little really. Granted I skimmed it, but I didn't see anything much about real world application. It seemed more like a book report. What I've gathered from people here is that mexicola type will survive but they never produce because the winter flowers are damaged by the cold. I think one guy said he has one that is decades old and has never gotten any fruit. That is Northern California coastal ranges maybe occasionally below 18 degrees with light snows not uncommon. I have heard of bearing trees down in the valley where it's a bit warmer, but none that are still around. I don't think we should give up at all. What I'd like to see is full scale exploring trips into the Mexican mountain country looking for anomalies growing at higher altitudes. Also, some sort of structure like a full pit greenhouse or partial greenhouse/wall/mass sort of thing. That is more along the lines I'm thinking at this point. Dwarfing stocks might make that more feasible. I've laid awake nights thinking about this or even about hybridizing them with California Bay Laurel which are winter bloom hardy. I know Freddy Menge has been trying to collect and test avos for cold resistance, but he is right on the coast in Southern Santa Cruz County, so it's hardly frost prone. Lets hope someone cracks the cold weather avocado code. I would build a damn altar to a good cold hardy avocado!
 
Burra Maluca
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I just scored some Pinkerton avocadoes in the supermarket to add to the mix. No idea what they're crossed with, but now I have Hass, Fuerte, Reed and Pinkerton to play with. Give me another dozen or so years and I'll have a nice frost-proof European variety going for you David...
 
Francesco Delvillani
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Mexicola should be one of the most cold-hardy Avocado...Anyway it's not only the min temperature, but also the max temp....in South France (Costa Azzurra, Corsica) grow all cultivars of Avocado, but in the north i think it's difficult....but try is the only way to know
 
Burra Maluca
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Francesco Delvillani wrote:Mexicola should be one of the most cold-hardy Avocado...


I keep hoping to find some. I understand they have thin, dark, edible skin which smells of aniseed?

If anyone has any seed, I'd love to hear from them.
 
Mickey Kleinhenz
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I think it's crazy that there are so few members living in the subtropical community.
The Cold Hardy Avocados are all pretty similar in hardiness from my experience. Frost tender for the first 2 years and then good for a light freeze unprotected(27^).
I have experience with "Fantastic", "Wilma", and "Opal". These trees produce well here in 9a Houston. What makes the most sense is getting scion wood online through California Rare Fruit Growers or similar and grafting. Avocados are easy to graft. Especially onto those big Haas pits.
Best of luck.

I am trying a few ungrafted seedlings as well. Maybe I'll get lucky.

 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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David Livingston wrote:I think there is a real biz opportunity out there for someone to bring over to europe some of these cultivars plus some sweet potato cultivars and I am sure other stuff .
David

I have two young avocado trees here in my window sil. The grew from seeds of avocados we ate. When a seed looks very good I try it, putting it above a glass of water with three pointed sticks in it. These two succeeded. They are of two different varieties: one had a dark and gritty skin, the other was shiny green and larger, probably West-Indian (bought in 'Afro-Caribbean' shop). I don't dare to put them outdoors in this climate. Everyone says: they'll never have fruits, it isn't the right climate here. Anyway: I like the way they look.

Sweet potatoes, oh I'ld love to grow them! Even if I need to grow them indoors ...
 
David Livingston
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sweet potatos are certainly doable in Holland . Folks in the uk have been growing them out side these past ten years
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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David Livingston wrote:sweet potatos are certainly doable in Holland . Folks in the uk have been growing them out side these past ten years

Thank you David! Where can I get more information (which variety of sweet potato, how to do it, etc. ) ?
 
David Livingston
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I find it difficult to find named varieties , in the UK its not so difficult see here for example http://www.mr-fothergills.co.uk/Vegetable-Plants/Sweet-Potato-Plants/Sweet-Potato-Collection-15.html#.V0WcVeQVZ8A, http://www.thompson-morgan.com/vegetables/potatoes/sweet-potatoes/sweet-potato-duo/t46882TM However I have yet to find organic plants .
This year I grew my own plants after buying a couple of organic sweet potatos and I managed to have about 15 plants from two sweet potatos I also bought a purple plant I found at a local plant seller ( its the first year they have them here in France )

David
 
Tobias Ber
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hey Inge,
i had the same question. there s a thread about it. our climate should be very similar.

http://www.permies.com/t/56264/plants/Sweet-Potatoes-Zone#471575
 
Burra Maluca
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How much frost do you get, David?

I found a bacon tree (well, y'know, an avocado tree called bacon...) on ebay. I'm contacting the seller to see what he charges for shipping.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Planta-aguacate-variedad-Bacon-en-maceta-7L-/271345907794?

Here's a webpage about them - http://mimiavocado.com/2014/11/does-bacon-avocado-taste-like-bacon/
 
David Livingston
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I could do with a bacon tree, the French cut up pork different to the UK so I don't get any Bacon these days
Anyway back to Avocados , we get down to - 3 min that I have seen , so how big does this tree get ? Could I grow it in a pot and bring it inside when it gets very cold ? Would it get big enough to fruit ?

David
 
Burra Maluca
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Bacon can take minus 3 or 4 Celsius. I'm still waiting to hear how much he's going to charge for shipping. I'm going to get one or two and probably keep them in pots in front of the house for a couple of years until the bark has thickened up. We usually go down to minus 5 a few times in the winter, sometimes minus 9 for a few hours. From what little I've read, they can grow up to 15 or 20 feet. They're not the very best ones to eat, not as creamy as some of the others, but I'll settle for something that survives and fruits! The skins are fine and delicate, so they don't travel well enough to be popular in supermarkets.

Apparently they sell bacon to pollinate hass in Spain, so it's a good chance that if you find hass grown in spain, then the seeds will be half bacon. I'm going to be scouting out for more spanish-grown hass to buy now so I can plant the seed.
 
Burra Maluca
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Urgh - that guy wanted €40 for shipping just one plant. I can buy a lot of Spanish grown Hass avocados for that, which are likely pollinated by a Bacon. So I think I'm going to do that instead.
 
Barbara Murphy
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Jackie French grows avocados in a protected, food forest type garden near Canberra where it does get really cold. Check out her book "Backyard Self-Sufficiency" for lots of really good growing ideas, including avocados. We have seedlings all through the garden and in pots here on the mountain where winter mornings can get to -5C to -7C and as long as they are well mulched and protected from the cold air seeping downhill, they are standing up to it just fine. Varieties - probably Feurte and Shephard (grown lots in Coffs Harbour).
 
David Livingston
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40€ are they coming by private drone or something ?
I think I will start planting out the seeds and see what happens like your self Burra they sprout anyway in the compost here so that must mean something
But I will keep looking

David
 
Sandrine Coosemans
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Does anybody know if growing them from seed would actually have them produce fruit?
I had 5 or 6 young trees when we moved from Belgium to Spain 20 months ago - unfortunately they didn't survive the first summer (a bit of neglect from my part I'm afraid, they didn't do well in full sun).
Just put a new avocado pit in a pot this afternoon... First of a new batch, set to be put in a semi-sheltered place - I will follow Dan's advice and only plant them out when they developed a bit of bark on the trunk!
Youtube will have you believe that growing avocado from seed only works if you put them half in water (supported by 3-4 sticks), but I once did a comparison where I had 3 pits in water and 3 in soil, and the ones planted directly in soil (and kept humid all of the time) actually did better.
 
Justin Gonzales
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Last years avacado tree died from hypothermia same seed sprouted a second tree. I am in WA state and I am wondering if anyone knows if the tree gets hypothermia from cold soil or air or both. If I can raise my soil temp will the tree do fine?
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Rick Valley
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My landscaping business partner is lusting after hardy aguacates too. First, a climate lesson: many of these hardy varieties are from around the Gulf of Mexico; Cold winters, HOT summers. Anjou is like a west coast maritime climate- cool winters, cool summers. If you have a really nice hot microclimate David, you might have a good chance. Do you succeed well with figs? Can you grow grape varieties that are from Spain? Here in Oregon we grow fine Anjou pears...and we are beginning to plant Spanish grapes It's not just the worst low temperature but how long it stays low. I may be 120 miles south of Portland, but I'm at the bottom end of the Willamette Valley, and while we don't get cold as fast as Portland, which is open to the continental interior, once it gets cold here it stays cold. Bad cold air drainage. So my biz partner can grow Yuzu citrus, but I can't. My figs freeze to the ground more often. I would also say, screw the grafted trees. Go with seed. If you get cold enough to kill the top of the tree, an established avocado will come back from the roots. It will take several years of cold to kill the roots. The way to really get a cold hardy avocado would be to get big fruit genes into it's hardy relative, Oregon myrtle/California Bay/Umbellularia californica, which has fruit like miniature avocados (and, with roasting, the seeds are edible altho somewhat stimulating. I understand the English common name is Headache Tree, because of what happens if you inhale the crushed leaf smell too deeply. Very fine, colorful, useful hardwood too. Nice for salad bowls and such. The fruit are edible but for only a short time, taste like a watery avocado and guaranteed it will grow in Anjou. It's introduced to Britain for sure.
 
David Livingston
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Thanks for that Rick , some interesting ideas .
Figs are no problem Here as there are many different types and they are easy to propagate . I have got four types growing and some are starting to fruit .Total cost zero . I just ask folks if I can try a cutting here is a pic of my latest cuttings. The little ones with leaves are purple and the others green . The Green ones are from a neighbours tree . The tree is about 6m tall the little purple ones are from a tree about 4m tall .
Since I come from the North east of England hot for me is anything over 24c after which I slow down like the Trolls in the Terry Pratchet novels and cold starts below 3/4 C really cold is -4C.

David
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Rick Valley
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I figured you'd have good fig diversity! When I first came out to the pacific maritime NW the figs blew my mind. Fortunately my neighborhood in Portland was the center of the Italian immigrant community. Catholic churches, fig trees and even persimmons. So if you can find someone with the right avocado varieties and get some seed, you'll be set to try. In the US there are several organizations- California Rare Fruit Growers, and North American Fruit Explorers (Nafex) Someone in coastal California- especially N. of San Francisco, or someone on the Gulf Coast- from Gainsville Florida to Houston, Texas would be a likely source. What laws you'd have to deal with or ignore I don't know, but I'm not aware of any real dangers of disease. I have done it both ways- permits & quarantine or pretend ignorance, and sometimes I've had success. Good luck!
 
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Someone else touched on it, there are A and B flowers, they switch sexes. Some bloom female first and some bloom male first. You must have a pair that bloom opposite to get fertilization. In commercial market the most common we see are Haas, which are crossed with Fuente. The ratio is about 1 Fuente per 10 Haas. Some will even graft a branch of Fuente onto Haas to make it self pollenating.

I have a seed I started, it came from Haas and I know it is a Fuente cross. I have no idea if it will produce blooms if ever. I keep it as a houseplant when my night temps drop below 50, so it sees a good five to six months of the great outdoors. I am 6b and no where near where I would consider you could grow an avocado in-ground. I wouldn't consider them frost hardy at all.
 
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