®Maluma Hass
Maluma Hass is a South African 'Hass-like' variety. It is a chance seedling of unknown parentage discovered in the early 1990s by Dries Joubert on his farm 'Maluma', at Levubu, Limpopo, South Africa. It was given to Allesbeste Nursery, Tzaneen, South Africa to explore its commercial  potential, as it was a slightly larger fruit than Hass, seemed to be a precocious and regular bearer, and the tree was upright and more easily controlled than Hass trees. The variety appearing promising as a new commercial cultivar, and was fruit variety was patented in 2004 and exported for the first time in 2006. The name Maluma has been registered as a trademark.

The fruit has gained acceptance in the European market, and the variety has now been patented and planted in several countries around the world, including New Zealand (where it is only available to registered avocado growers), Australia, USA, Spain, Morocco, Egypt, Peru, and lately Chile, Mozambique and Israel.

The Tree

Maluma is believed to be mainly Guatemalan, with some Mexican influence. Like Hass, it has an 'A' type flowering pattern. Maluma is more upright than Hass, but is smaller and less vigorous than Hass, and can relatively easily be trained to a central leader if this is done early. If a central leader system is used, the side branches are horizontal, somewhat drooping, with shorter internodes than Hass. Importantly, the more open habit allows good light penetration when grown as a central leader plant.  The distinctive leaves are somewhat drooping and incurved, relatively narrow, and often with an shallowly undulating margin.

Maluma comes into bearing quickly. A couple of trees planted here in Helensville were very quick to set and mature a first fruit. However, our young trees have been harder to 'green up' than most varieties here, probably because they flowered so early and so heavily that it has delayed proper root establishment. Several dropped leaves after flowering, and are still 'sulking' in spite of my efforts to get them going again. The tree and the fruit are said to be less sensitive to frost damage than Hass, and conversely, more tolerant of heat.

According to Dr. Andre Ernst of Allesbeste Nursery, in South African conditions the best Hass production is 12-15 tonnes per hectare, but Maluma "easily exceeds that". Best yields can be as high as 20 tonnes to the hectare.

Maluma is said to be acceptably mature a month earlier than Hass - at least under South African conditions. In 2015 the fruit here commenced tree ripening in mid - late November, only a little before our Hass.

In 2017, the first slight color change in the Maluma fruit was in late September. Hass fruit here are all totally green at that time. In 2020, the first color change was about mid October. Fruit picked on the 19th of October had softened by the 28th. The quality was good, but the seed coat was stil a light brown, suggesting they had yet to reach full maturity. In the 2016 season, Maluma fruit in the Bay of Plenty reached the minimum 24% dry matter in early October, whereas Hass reached 24% much earlier than Maluma, in mid August.

In contrast, in the warmer areas of new Zealand (Whangarei, Far North) Maluma reached 24% in mid June, but Hass didn't achieve pickable maturity of 24% DM until a month later, in mid July. Clearly, there is a regional split - Maluma is the earliest high quality avocado to mature, but only in the warmer north. In the Bay of Plenty, the main avocado growing area, Hass beats Maluma to first maturity by a significant margin.

A tentative explanation might be that Hass is better able to ripen fruit in cooler temperatures; and Maluma's maturation is both inhibited by cooler temperatures and is much more responsive to warm temperatures than Hass.

Maluma Hass fruit and seed Ripe Maluma Hass  Maluma Hass fruit half

Externally, the fruit look almost identical to Hass, but the shape is more pyriforme (pear shaped), and the skin is much more prominently 'pebbled', and is glossier. The ripe skin color is purple-black. Internally, the flesh is slightly paler than Hass, with a little fiber, and has a good flesh to seed ratio. South Africa reports the seed volume as 10% - 15% of the fruit volume. A small 2018 sample here was 11.4%, 12.2%, 13.4%, 14.1%, so in line with South African results. Under South African conditions the fruit size range is 150 to 400 grams. The New Zealand fruit illustrated above was large relative to Hass, at 335 grams (the seed on the far left has had its seed coat removed). In 2017, the fruit averaged around 320 grams.

The South Africans describe the taste as  nutty, like Hass, but 'creamier'. The above fruit, picked in mid December 2014, was very oily, with a buttery texture. It has a definite and very good flavour, but it is not as 'nutty' as Hass. The skin usually peels easily from the flesh. In 2017, the first hint of color change on Maluma fruit was in late september. A fruit picked at this stage was very good - better than Hass at this time. However, the autumn set Carmen Hass round picked in late September was outstanding - as good as Hass ever is at its best. In 2018, it was clear that spring Maluma are much superior to Hass in flavor, but by early summer Hass has caught up and surpassed Maluma in flavor.

Personally, I think the flavor is superior to Hass, at least, early in the season. Maluma fruit from the north have the potential to be seen as a 'gourmet' avocado early in the season - as long as they can be guaranteed to have a Northern provenance.