Hawaii is a net importer of avocados, although the trees grow luxuriantly in many of our islands’ microclimates. In season, the Saturday farmers market at Eddie Tam in Makawao presents many varieties, from big, fat, light green and smooth to small, dark and nubbly.
Now the UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, the Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers Association and the Kona Kohala Chefs Association are uniting to establish a foundation for self-sufficiency in the fruit.
"We’re looking for a few great avocados from seedlings and unknown grafted trees to be evaluated by horticulturists and chefs," said Ken Love, HTFG executive director. "Chosen fruit will be propagated and planted at the UH experiment station in Kainaliu (on the Big Island) and protected so future generations will have access to it."
A good avo should have a good seed-to-meat ratio, high oil content, smooth taste with no strings, nice appearance of both skin and edible portion, and flavor.
Avocados can be submitted for evaluation by mail to the UH Extension Office in Kainaliu. Mail two or three "almost ripe" fruit samples to Marc Meisner, UH Extension Office, 7-7381 Mamalahoa Highway, Kealakekua 96750.
Entries should include the approximate height and age of tree, if fruit is from a grafted tree or seedling, any indicators used to harvest the fruit, farm elevation and any farm history. "Knowing any previous farm owners may help determine the history of the fruit," said Love.
The chefs will do a culinary evaluation of many unusual avocado varieties June 2. Any grower wishing to have fruit tested by them should get "perfectly ripe fruit" to the Kainaliu extension office or to Love by June 1.
For more info, contact Ted Radovich on Oahu at 956-7909 or at theodore@ hawaii.edu; Ken Love in Kona at 323-2417 or kenlove@ kona.net; or Marc Meisner in Kona at 322-4896.