New research may allow the Central Valley to become a major producer of avocados

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A bowl of guacamole never lasts long-- but the cost of avocados has jumped 62-percent since February due to lower yields in both Southern California and Mexico.

Avocados are not a major crop in Central California. They are sensitive to the cold and high heat but research conducted in Lindcove is looking to change that.

The UC Research and Extension Center in Tulare County has 15 different types of avocado trees growing on a test plot. Mary Lu Arpaia hopes to develop a variety which can adapt to extreme temperatures.

"If we can expand that statewide acreage and open the Valley up for avocado growing then we're gonna expand the California season."

Year round fruit is the goal and farmers are very interested in the research being conducted.

"I've had a lot of interest from different growers. Stone fruit growers, grape growers, citrus growers," said Arpaia.

Dave Obenland puts each variety through the taste test.

"They are different in flavor and texture. They're so many different types. That's why you wonder why we have to stick with Hass."

Hass is the main variety we buy. Avocados are primarily grown in Southern California and in coastal areas, but here diluted white paint is used to protect the trees.

"The wood is very sensitive to sun burning," said Obenland.

But Arpaia figures the breeding project will someday pay off with the perfect avocado which will bear fruit 12 months a year."

"I'm an optimist. I think we can. There's a lot of genetic diversity in avocado."
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