Backyard grower FAQs
Are you chasing information on growing an avocado tree in your backyard, or caring for a tree you already have?
As the administrative office for the commercial avocado industry in Australia, we are limited in being able to provide advice for backyard growing.
Our best recommendation in all circumstances is to make contact with a tropical fruit specialist/nursery in your area that may be able to provide some tips and advice that are best suited to your local situation. However, we have collated some useful public resources that might help.
(Hot tip if you are new commercial grower – head over to the Best Practice Resource and register for access.)
General growing tips
Have you been inspired by @leafy.lane (AKA Brad Canning) on Instagram to grow your own avocado tree indoors for fun? You can find his avo growing videos on YouTube:
- Brad’s Insta story is here (link may expire…check the YouTube videos below!)
- the fastest way to grow an avocado
- potting and avocado FAQs
- avocado DIY.
Please note, if you are growing your avocado tree in a pot (particularly indoors) it may never produce fruit. These articles may be of some assistance:
If you would like more information geared toward the backyard gardener, these articles may be of some use:
- Gardening Australia click here
- if you are in Western Australia, read this article from the Albany Advertiser
- trying your hand at avo growing in Tasmania? One of our commercial growers provided some handy tips for backyard growers in this article and you read more in the Tasmanian Times too
- and if you are in the Canberra or similarly cold area, check out this article from the Canberra Times: click here.
Identifying your avocado tree
In Australia, most commercial avocado trees are Hass, followed by Shepard. There are a large number of other varieties present in Australia, but they make up only a small portion of the national orchard.
It can be quite hard to determine variety, as this may not have even been known at the time of planting if you’ve got your seed or plant from a friend. If planted from seed, there is a chance the seed was from a cross-pollinated fruit (eg Hass and Fuerte).
However, if you have the tree, there is a handy Avocado Variety Identifier online here – that includes images of the leaves, fruit and seed for the main varieties. You should be able to narrow it down with all three to hand. There are also other resources here, again more aimed at commercial growers, which might help you care for your tree.
This US resource (from the University of California) has a broader range of varieties: click here.
This video from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is aimed at commercial producers, but might provide a starting point for your backyard planting: click here. QDAF also has a useful page of tips online here.
If you want to hear how one of our organic growers mulches his orchard, you can listen to this interview from ABC Brisbane (January 2021).
And this handy article is from the US but comes recommended by our US industry counterparts: The Yard Posts.
Avocados are an interesting tree, and the various varieties are either Type A or Type B. While avocado trees can self-pollinate, the avocado flower opens in two stages with the male and female flower parts opening at different times of the day, depending on if they are Type A or Type B. If your tree is flowering but you aren’t getting fruit on your backyard tree, you may need a second tree of the alternate type. Check the Avocado Variety Identifier online here.
Pruning your avocado tree
Your options for canopy management can range from a light pruning, all the way through to staghorning (that is, cutting the trees back to a stump!). Knowing what is best for your tree and when it should happen requires advice from a local expert. You should also ask them about post-pruning care, to ensure your tree has many more productive years ahead.
You can find some general information here:
Caring for your tree
Avocado trees can be troubled by a number of pests and diseases, and also require good nutrition and irrigation. You can find a range of information to help online here.
A significant issue for avocados in Australia (and elsewhere) is Phytophthora root rot. This blog post from the University of California will help you with identification: click here.
Avocados don’t actually ripen until they are picked. Commercial growers carry out a dry matter test to help them determine when to harvest. However, for you as a backyard grower, we suggest picking an avocado and letting it ripen on the bench. If it has a good texture and decent flavour, you are right to go.
In our annual Facts at a Glance, we include a chart of supply periods by region. This may help you narrow down your own harvest window, if your tree is in one of our eight growing regions. Click here for the most recent edition.
Date Published: 08/10/2020