France: Avocados grown in Pyrénées-Orientales

In Baho, near Perpignan, Pierre Foxonet and Henri Thorent have been growing avocados since 2019. “At the time, there was nothing in the region to teach us how to grow avocados, apart from a few avocado trees in some private gardens,” explains Pierre, who also produces salads, potatoes and apricots. 

They decided to plant 280 avocado trees on a plot of more than 6,000 m² and in January 2021, date of the first harvest, the verdict was rather positive. “We were pleasantly surprised by the quantity of fruit produced last year.”

But in 2020, a small part of the harvest was destroyed by the frost. “We knew that these types of mishaps would happen sooner or later. We are not in a tropical climate. We are taking risks, and I tell this to everyone who comes to see us with the idea of starting their own avocado production. For the moment, it is important to be careful financially because we do not have enough hindsight yet. We are even almost certain that there will be blank seasons because of the weather.”

The two producers also had to adjust to the wind. “We did not know this. The first blow of tramontana caused the fall of many avocados, which are suspended by a long stem from the tree. But we managed to limit the damage. We protected the plot from the wind with a row of poplar trees, doubled by a row of cypresses. We tried to gain some control over the Catalan climate.”

With a harvest cycle of 10 months (8 months in traditional countries), the avocados from the Pyrénées-Orientales department have the advantage of not traveling several weeks to reach the market shelves. “They are also a great success in terms of taste. These avocados do not travel for three weeks on a ship, they are harvested when they are at maturity. On the tree, the fruits reach their optimal fat content. The longer an avocado stays on the tree, the better it will be. It does not ripen until it is cut off the tree, which is another advantage to spread the distribution over several months.”


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