Spain is the main avocado producer in Europe. The fruit is also grown on a smaller scale in Sicily, the Greek island of Crete and the Portuguese Algarve. On the coast of Malaga and Granada there are more than 10,000 hectares devoted to avocado production. The vast majority of the fruit here is of the Hass variety, whose campaign runs from November to April, so there are more than six months when the fruit needs to be imported from other countries.
For this reason, researchers at the Institute of Subtropical and Mediterranean Horticulture "La Mayora", based in the Malaga town of Algarrobo, have proposed to extend avocado cultivation in Malaga with the introduction of new varieties that, in addition to ensuring continuity in the supply, can make it possible to offer consumers new flavors and textures. As researcher Iñaki Hormaza says to Efe, with the cultivation of "four or five different varieties" of this fruit, we may obtain a domestic production all year round.
Hormaza also says that such a diversification would lead to "greater resilience" in the face of pests or diseases, as if one of them affected the Hass, almost all crops would be threatened.
Varieties such as the Fuerte (low fat and green-colored), Lamb Hass (similar to the Hass), Reed (round and dark green skin), Bacon (dark green and with less fat than the Hass) or Maluma (native to South Africa) could be cultivated in Algarrobo, given the characteristics of the soil and the climate.
To achieve this diversity, Hormaza said that genome crosses are carried out in the field, and the avocado offspring are then selected; a long process that could be evaluated "in 7 or 8 years," when the avocado seed produces "flowers and fruit."
The Institute of Subtropical and Mediterranean Hortofruticulture "La Mayora", of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and the University of Malaga (UMA), also conducts research on other tropical crops, such as mango, custard apple, papaya, soursop, cocoa, carambola, longan and lychee, among others.