Got guacamole? Find out how UC supports state’s avocado industry
Check out Alec Rosenberg’s July 24 post to the UC Food Blog. Rosenberg, UCOP’s communications coordinator for health and ANR, discusses how UC is contributing to California’s $460 million avocado industry and shares his recipe for a summer favorite, guacamole. Here’s an excerpt:
UC’s nine research and extension centers support about 350 research projects, including avocado studies at South Coast. UC’s research is critical to keeping California’s $460 million avocado industry competitive. While California produces about 90 percent of the nation’s avocado crop, the market faces increasing global pressure from countries such as Mexico, Chile and Peru.
“Our whole goal is to make the industry in California more sustainable,” said UC Cooperative Extension specialist Mary Lu Arpaia, in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences at UC Riverside.
Arpaia leads UC’s efforts to develop new avocado varieties. The dominant variety, Hass, started in 1926 in Southern California and has become so common globally that it could become generic, Arpaia said.
“My belief is the way we’re going to differentiate ourselves as a California industry and survive is by breeding something unique,” Arpaia said.
UC Riverside has developed several avocado varieties, signing a license agreement last year for its latest release, GEM. The great-granddaughter of the Hass avocado, GEM shares Hass’ desired characteristics such as a creamy, nutty flesh while offering growers additional benefits such as being a smaller tree that typically is more productive, Arpaia said.
Arpaia is evaluating more varieties. The next potential release is likely two to three years away, she said.
Meanwhile, Arpaia also is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to improve the postharvest quality of avocados – how packing houses and distribution centers should handle the fruit, for how long and at what temperature.
For Rosenberg’s full post, including his guacamole recipe, go to the UC Food Blog.