It’s Avocado Month!

Celebrate the Magic of California Avocados.

By Emily McKay Johnson, Associate Editor


Chefs and foodies alike, get ready for California Avocado Month which begins TODAY, June 1st. Menus across California are celebrating this magical fruit, not only for its postive health benefits as a source of Omega-3 and Vitamin E, but also for its resiliency to thrive in spite of the prolonged drought.



“Avocados are at their peak of the season,” said Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the California Avocado Commission (CAC), “so we’re in very good supply and their eating quality is just second to none.”


Avocados are so diverse, they can be incorporated into daily menus for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, beverages and even desserts. Consider celebrating summer gatherings with chocolate avocado pudding, avocado ice cream or, perhaps, even an avocado cake. Links to recipes are included at the end of the article.


Would you believe California avocados can be used as a butter alternative—with 300 fewer calories per quarter cup serving?


Despite entering year five of the drought, California and its farming industry received enough rain in the northern part of the state this year to replenish reservoirs and actually increase this year’s avocado harvest. Roughly 4,000 growers on approximately 53,000 acres have harvested 392 million pounds of avocados.


“We actually have more fruit this year than we had last year,” acknowledged DeLyser. “Our growers are continuing to be good stewards of the resources that are available to them and able to produce avocados for us all to enjoy throughout the summer months.”


The CAC’s collaboration with chefs around the country to feature California avocado items, helps support growers of the tree-bearing fruit in the state. Approximately 90 percent of the nation’s avocado crop comes from fertile, California soil, mostly on small family farms, which can ensure the avocados are carefully handled and inspected.


Recipes incorporating delectable avocados:  Chocolate Avocado CakeAvocado Ice Cream

Why the Amazing Avocado will Help Curb Cravings

Source: Midge Munro; Avocado Industry Council  

Research shows adding a few slices of avocado to your lunch will slash your desire to eat over the next three hours by 40 per cent compared to eating the same meal without it.

A study, published in Nutrition Journal, focused on overweight adults to see if avocado consumption helped them feel more satisfied and reduced their desire to eat in the following few hours.

Researchers at Loma Linda University in the United States conducted randomized single-blind crossover trials where participants ate a standard breakfast followed by one of three test lunches – one without avocado, one that included avocado and one where extra avocado was added.

The volunteers’ glucose and insulin responses were measured, along with their feelings of satisfaction and desire to eat over the next five hours.

The study found those who added half a fresh avocado to their lunch reported a 40 per cent decrease in desire to eat again over the next three hours, and a 28 per cent decrease in the following five hours.

Participants also reported feeling more satisfied (26 per cent) during the course of the afternoon following their avocado lunch.

Satiety is an important factor in weight management, because people who feel satisfied are less likely to snack between meals, said Dr. Joan Sabaté, Chair of the Department of Nutrition who led the research team at Loma Linda University.

It was also noted that though adding avocados increased participants’ calorie and carbohydrate intake at lunch, there was no increase in blood sugar levels beyond what was observed after eating the standard lunch. This leads them to believe that avocado’s potential role in blood sugar management is worth further investigation.

The study was funded by the American-based Hass Avocado Board.

New Zealand Avocado CEO Jen Scoular says there are many international studies underway to uncover the health benefits of avocados.

“Other research published in Nutrition Journal found people who regularly eat avocados weigh 3.4kg less on average, and have waistlines around 4cm smaller, than those who don’t,” Scoular says.

“Avocados are rich in monounsaturated (‘good’) fats and are a low GI (glycemic index) food, so they will help you to feel fuller for longer.”

Another reason avocado will help fill you up is they are packed with fibre. Half an avocado will provide more than 25 per cent of your daily recommended fibre intake.

“They’re an absolute powerhouse when it comes to providing your body with the nutrients it needs each day. They also help your body absorb more nutrients from other fruit and vegetables you eat with avocado,” Scoular explains.

Boosting your avocado intake is easy as this home-grown fruit is extremely versatile. You can add a few slices to your favourite omelette, sandwich or salad, or eat them on toast at any time of day.

“You can also blend them into smoothies or use them as a butter and oil substitute when baking or making desserts,” she says. “Their creamy texture makes them perfect for mousses, ice cream and cheesecakes. Delicious and healthy!”

U.S.: Limoneira Raises 2014 Income Guidance

U.S. lemon and avocado business Limoneira Company (NASDAQ: LMNR) recorded a sharp year-on-year rise in lemon sales in the second quarter, and buoyant prices for the fruit have led to a substantially higher income guidance for 2014.

The company’s lemon sales increased 17% during the period to reach US $18.1 million, and costs were only slightly up by US $700,000 amid acquisitions of Associated Citrus Packers and Lemons 400.

With the much higher sales and only a marginal increase in costs, operating income surged by 35% to US $3.2 million. EBITDA was down 2.3%, but it is important to note the company gained US $3.1 million in the second quarter last year by selling stock in Calavo Growers (NASDAQ: CVGW).

“Based on lemon prices we are currently enjoying, our results for the first six months of fiscal 2014 and our positive outlook for the back half of the year, we are raising our previously issued guidance for the full year results of operations,” said chief executive officer Harold Edwards.

“Importantly, even with the well-publicized drought in California, we continue to believe that our extensive water rights, usage rights and pumping rights will provide us with adequate supplies of water as we begin our seasonally strongest quarter of the year.”

The company said that with higher lemon prices expected, it has pushed up its previous operating income guidance from US $7 million to a range of US $10.6-11.8 million.

Limoneira said this approximately represented a 100% increase over its 2013 operating income of US $5.4 million.

“The expected increase in operating income is primarily due to the additional lemon revenue generated by the acquisitions of Associated and Lemons 400 and increased lemon prices, partially offset by lower expected avocado revenue,” the company said.

“Fiscal year 2014 pre-tax earnings are anticipated to be $11.3 million to $12.4 million compared to previous guidance of approximately $8.1 million, which is similar to fiscal year 2013 pretax income.”

After hours trading was strong for the stock, with shares up 3.54% at the time of writing.


Center for Invasive Species Researches the Mighty Mite

Every 60 days, California gains a new and potentially damaging invasive species. (UC Riverside)

This rate of invasion, on average, results in six new species establishing in California each year. Economic loses to California from invasive species are estimated at $3 billion per year.
The unique climate and geography of California provides diverse ecosytems that are perfect for the establishment of a diverse variety of new pests. UC Riverside’s Center for Invasive Species Research (CISR) researchers lead the way to determine how pests enter California, where invading populations came from and why these pests are successful in establishing California as their home.
Ricky Lara
Ricky Lara, a UC Riverside graduate student researcher with Mark Hoddle, Ph.D., Biological Control Specialist and Principal Investigator, is focusing on updating and reinforcing the integrated pest control program against the non-native persea mite that infests Southern California avocado orchards.
“High persea mite populations cause premature leaf drop and defoliation. Defoliation leads to sunburned bark and fruit, aborted or dropped fruit, and severely stressed trees, which ultimately reduces yields,” said Lara.
My first objective,” began Lara, “is to further develop a presence/absence sampling plan for growers so they can make keep track of pest densities throughout the growing season to guide spray application decisions. This sampling method will prevent misuse of pesticides and for PCAs to be able to provide growers with better information.”
“Because counting mites on avocado leaves is so difficult, we use a presence/absence method, or binomial sampling, by choosing 30 random leaves per tree, on orchard trees located where the mites prefer.” The sampling simply requires the numbers of avocado leaves infested with the persea mite and the numbers of clean leaves with no persea mites. This ratio of infested leaves to clean leaves is used to estimate the average number of persea mites per avocado leaf. Thus, binomial (presence vs. absence) sampling is fast and simple, and allows large areas of orchards to be surveyed quickly.

Persea Mite (UC Riverside)
“Next, I will figure out where the persea mite comes from and find and examine its natural enemies,” explained Lara. “The logic is that if a pest is not native to the area, its natural predators aren’t here either.”
Lara remarked, “Furthermore, I plan on assessing the risk that novel pesticides being developed for persea mite control pose to beneficial predatory mite populations that attack persea mite. By reducing pesticide use and conserving the presence of predators, we expect to enhance the avocado orchard ecosystem’s capacity for self-regulation of persea mite by making better use of natural enemies for pest control.”
The persea mite infests 99% of avocado acreage in California (There are no records of this pest in the San Joaquin Valley but it has been reported from avocados growing in San Francisco.) This mite is sensitive to high temperatures (>95oF) and low humidity when experienced over several consecutive days, and abrupt population crashes in the field have been observed under these conditions. The persea mite most likely originated from Mexico and arrived in California on smuggled plants.
Scientists at UCR have investigated the efficacy of releases of predatory mites for persea mite control. A highly effective natural enemy, Neoseiulus californicus,is commercially available and has been shown to be very effective, but is cost prohibitive. Seven commercial cultivars of avocado have been screened for resistance to persea mite feeding, and a new cultivar, Lamb Hass, is quite resistant to this pest.
Several species of predators occur naturally in California avocado orchards, and they have been observed to feed on persea mites. Yet, none of these natural enemies provides effective control of the mite. Nonetheless, their presence in orchards is desirable because they probably lessen the severity of persea mite infestations and will feed on other pest species.
Work is currently in progress monitoring persea mite populations, assessing predator quality after an imported shipment arrives, and refining release methodology, rates and timings of these predators.