One way to make your produce department stand out from the competition is to think beyond the hass variety when it comes to merchandising avocados.

Just because avocados are available doesn’t mean they’re at peak flavor, says Mary Lu Arpaia, Cooperative Extension horticulture specialist at the University of California, Riverside.

“In my opinion, we need to step back and look for other varieties, so that we put the hass in the marketplace when it is premium quality, not just acceptable quality,” she says.

And those other varieties should be marketed when they reach premium quality, as well.

“There is material out there that could be on the shoulders of the hass season,” Arpaia says.

For example, the university is on the verge of releasing a small, round avocado that comes on earlier than the hass and peaks at size 60 or 72. (Hass peaks on 40s and 48s.)

This new variety, as yet unnamed, usually turns olive-green when it’s ripe, not black like hass, and it peels easily. Its texture is similar to hass.

Another soon-to-be-released variety, also unnamed, is very productive, grows on a compact tree like the GEM, but it comes on later -- around June or July -- and can hang on the tree until October or November, Arpaia says.

It’s more teardrop-shaped than hass, turns black when ripe, and it’s easy to peel.

“That’s a variety that could augment GEM,” Arpaia says.

Other options include fuerte, which doesn’t turn black and was the main variety grown in California from the 1920s until the early 1970s.

“It’s a late-winter/spring fruit, but it’s excellent quality,” she says.

The reed variety is “distinctly different than hass,” she says.

It’s a round, green-skin, late-summer avocado that has “unbelievable eating quality.”

The Lamb hass also is a late-summer avocado, but it can be picked before August, she says. Its optimal eating quality is in August and September.

Also consider: 

  • Bacon, a dark green, winter/early-spring variety;
  • Gwen, a green, spring/summer fruit;
  • Pinkerton, a green, winter/early-spring avocado;
  • SirPrize, a black, winter/early-spring fruit; and
  • Zutano, a light-green, winter/early-spring selection.

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