by Laurie Meadows
Reed avocado variety is a chance seedling of Nabal, selected
by James Reed in California in 1948. The pollen parent is
suspected to be Anaheim, an upright, productive Guatemalan
type. 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 mid
july). 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.
But they are usually at their best from march onward (it is
possible that in very hot years they should be picked
earlier, by the end of march, or some early-set fruit will
be overmature and 'bacony').
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.
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'.)
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 April onward.
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.