by Laurie Meadows
Reed avocado variety is a chance seedling of Nabal, selected
by James Reed in California in 1948. The tree bears regular
crops of large, round fruit of exceptional eating quality.
The tree is vigorous and upright, but apparently can be keep
to about 2.5 metres in height by intensive pruning.
We have had a tree here for many years, but it has been
affected with phytopthora root rot from the start. We have
kept it alive, if not thriving, by regular additions of
woody material for mulch, occasional dressing of sheep poo
and sheep poo liquid manure. It has had one ever treatment
with phosphoric acid injected into the trunk. It
is slowly becoming more vigorous, but the root disease, plus
the fact that it matures 20 to 30 fruit every year has meant
it has remained a very small tree - a bit taller than head
small phytopthora-affected, but reliable Reed tree
It is a late season green-skinned fruit, like Hellen. And like Hellen,
it has a thick skin, albeit not as shell-like; but it is
still hard to tell when it is ripe.
Reed is very productive. Like Hass, it has the 'A' type flowering pattern.
Reed starts flowering later in spring than Hass, when the
weather is warmer.
Reed fruit on a mature
tree in a commercial orchard.
The flesh quality is outstanding. Some consider Reed avocado
fruit as the best tasting avocado there is.
Ripe Reed fruit.
Note the cavity where the stem button was 'flick
The fruit are quite large, ranging from about 240 grams to
about 500 grams. Some fruit can be bigger than that.
These fruit weight
600 grams each
At Helensville, north of Auckland,
their season seems to be march to april, but they will hang
on the tree much longer, if the rats and possums don't get
them (a few late set fruit can remain on the tree into
In the Bay of Plenty, where avocado take longer to ripen,
and the season starts a little later, the
dry matter content just before Xmas is about 20%, too low to
harvest. Dry matter in the Bay doesn't reach the required
levels until late february, and by late march levels are
very good - from about 27% to 29%. So Reeds
main season in the Bay starts in march and goes through
until late june.
In Whangarei, Reed fruit harvested a few days before
Christmas had dry matter content from about 20% to just over
24%. ('Avoscene', November 2015) The minimum maturity
indicator for Hass is 24%, so I suppose Reed are also
perfectly nice, but not spectacular, at this level. By mid
January Whangarei grown Reed have reached from about 24% to
28% dry matter, and by late February they are at, or over
30% - into the spectacularly good tasting range!
Here, if the largest (and therefore most mature) fruit are
picked first, some fruit can be picked in late february.
They can sometimes be earlier - in some years, a few larger
early-set fruit will be good quality by the end of december,
just in time for Xmas. But they are usually at their best
from march onward. Towards the end of the season, in May,
the seed within the fruit starts to crack as the main root
begins to grow. The fruit begin to fall naturally from mid
But in very hot and moist years (Auckland north) they should
be picked earlier, by the end of march, or they can be
overmature and 'bacony', and in some fruit the seed will be
Picked fruit should ripen in about 5 days. One way to check
ripeness is to lightly flick the piece of stem at the end of
the fruit. If it falls out, the fruit is ripe. You can
double check by pushing a toothpick into the cavity where
the stem flicked out. If it goes in without much resistance,
the fruit is ripe. Another way is to squeeze the fruit
gently. An unripe fruit is hard, a ripe fruit has a little
bit of 'give'. (Soft skin avocados, such as Hass, will
bruise badly if you do the 'squeeze test'.)
Reed is a great cultivar for the home garden, provided it is
pruned hard. Pity it is hard to tell when it has ripened.
If you have corrections, observations, or
comments, feel free to drop a line to:
avocado [and next insert the symbol ["@"] lauriemeadows
"dot" info. Apologies in advance, I don't check email very
often, so acknowledgement may be a wee while coming.