AvocadoShop & Ecology
Q1. What is meant by ‘unsprayed’ and ‘untreated’? (The avocados are not bio-certified, correct?)
A1. The production of large avocados normally requires high levels of potassium. We use artificial fertilizer, which does not require bio-certification. Weeds in the plantation are cut down – not poisoned. Fungal diseases are treated with natural sulphur in the form of copper, which is also used widely in biologically controlled cultivation. That´s AvocadoShop & Ecology
Our fruit is untreated, i.e. unwaxed. As a result, there is some weight loss after harvesting due to evaporation.
In 2004, avocados were imported from Mexico. These imports introduced the oligonychus persea mite into Europe, as well as plaguing California and Peru. The mite infests the underside of the avocado leaves, feeding off plant sap and weakening the trees. Wind dispersal has led to the whole of Andalusia becoming infected. In spite of this, we have made the decision not to use insecticides to spray the leaves, even though it means a 20% loss in production and sales. That´s part of AvocadoShop & Ecology
Q2. In broad outline, how does the cultivation process take place from seed to harvest?
A2. In 2000-2001, we acquired and planted the previously grafted saplings. The avocado tree bears fruit after four years. After harvesting and before the next flowering, we prune the trees. The trees are watered and fed using the water-saving drip irrigation system.
Each avocado is hand picked to prevent damage and bruising. We maintain that an avocado that has fallen onto the ground stays there as windfall, and cannot be marketed.
Q3. What happens immediately after harvesting the fruit? How and when is it packed and sent off?
A3. As soon as the order has been received, we pick and pack the avocados on the same day. The following day the order is on its way to the consumer.
Q4. How do you see yourself as being different from other producers worldwide?
A4. We know our customers and they know us, with benefits on both sides, as well as the environment:
a. For customers:
Knowing who the producers are and the cultivation methods they use, e.g. no pesticides, etc.
Freshly picked and carefully handled avocados upon receipt of order
When customers receive their avocados, they are still unripe. They then take over the ripening process and decide how many they want to become soft and creamy.
b. For the environment:
Because production takes place in Europe, there is no need to keep the fruit at a core temperature of 40 degrees C. The fruit is ripened naturally by the customer. This has the advantage of bypassing heated storage sheds, so respecting the energy balance. Shorter transportation distances are another advantage. AvocadoShop & Ecology
c. For us:
Because we do not put our produce on the global market ‘anonymously’, we derive a deep sense of satisfaction from knowing who is enjoying our avocados. Feedback from our customers motivates us to reach ever greater heights.
Unlike other fruit varieties, avocados do not fall from the trees when ripe, and so do not all have to be harvested in a short space of time. This enables us to keep them in perfect condition on the trees, ready to be freshly picked as each new order comes in.
Q5. How do the avocados reach destinations in northern Europe – i.e. by ship, plane, truck?
A5. Our own produce is transported throughout Europe by truck.
Q6. Do the avocados grow out in the open, or are they cultivated in climatically-controlled growing sheds?
A6. The trees are in the open, planted on terraced land.
Q7. Are the avocados stored or transported in climate-controlled containers, storage facilities or ripening sheds?
A7. No. The customer is in charge of natural, energy-saving ripening management.
Q8. Avocado production is resource-intensive.
Water consumption and cultivation space are key factors. Every kilo of fruit needs up to 1000 litres of water. In historic avocado-producing countries such as South Africa, Mexico, Peru, Chile and Israel, water is a scarce commodity. What is the situation where you are in Andalusia?
A8. Basically, we are blessed with a very good microclimate with an average annual rainfall of about 500l/sq. m. The neighbouring Sierra Nevada serves as a reservoir. The Rules Dam, completed in 2004, is fed by rainwater and melted snow, greatly improving the water situation after the pipe-distribution system was installed. However, the drought years of 1991-1992, and also 2016-2017 have led to the danger of the water obtained from wells in the Rio Verde Valley becoming brackish.The last good water wells are situated 500m from the Mediterranean. Heavy rains in August 2016 did ease the situation somewhat.
Q9. What is the size of your plantation? When was it established?
A9. Our finca is almost 2 hectares, planted with 300 trees. We acquired it in 1997 and cultivated it in 2000-2001.
Q10. How many employees do you have?
A10. We run a small family business ourselves with no additional employees.
Q11. Are your avocados available all year long, or is there a specific season?
A11. The harvest begins at the end of September and ends in mid-February.
Q12. Along with avocados, you also grow caquis, lychees, almonds, grapefruit, bananas and citrus fruits (and chilis, for which many thanks!) Can these also be ordered?
A12. Unfortunately not, as they spoil too quickly. But like the avocados, they are not sprayed or waxed.
Q13. In your opinion, has avocado production in Andalusia expanded?
A13. The expansion of production areas as a result of the increased water supply has led to more avocados being produced in Spain than twenty years ago.
Avocados have become a mega trend.