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Scientists spent half a century creating avocado of the future with incredible features: 'He never gave up'

Luna UCR avocados are said to have great flavor and high post-harvest quality.

Luna UCR™ avocados are said to have great flavor and high post-harvest quality.

Photo Credit: iStock

Scientists at the University of California, Riverside (UCR), have successfully developed a new avocado tree after more than 50 years of research and development.

UCR's news website reported that the patent-pending avocado, the Luna UCR, was invented by a team of agricultural scientists at the university. Luna UCR avocados are said to have great flavor and high post-harvest quality.

Interest in a new avocado variety began in the mid-1950s, as consumers desired an alternative to the Hass avocado, the most prevalent variety of the fruit. At first, the Hass was difficult to sell because many consumers were unaware that the fruit's black skin signaled its ripeness rather than its spoiling. 

Through the years, there have been attempts to create alternate avocado variants, namely the Gwen avocado developed by UCR scientist Bob Bergh. However, the Gwen was a commercial flop due to harvest issues. Additionally, as improved marketing for the Hass educated consumers on avocado ripeness and health benefits, its popularity significantly grew. Despite this, Bergh and the Luna UCR team continued the challenge to develop a new variety of the fruit based on previous research and consumer trends.

"Knowing what I know about Bob, he never gave up," Mary Lu Arpaia, UCR horticulturist, told UCR News.

The Luna UCR tree will significantly optimize harvest for avocado growers, as its smaller size allows for safer, denser planting with minimal pruning. The Luna UCR also produces flowers rich in pollen, greatly benefiting the growth of other avocado varieties. 

With the Luna UCR's efficient harvest capabilities, its introduction to the global market has the potential to aid ongoing avocado shortages. In 2022, the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that United States avocado production dropped by 24.1% since 2020. 

The hope is more avocados in the market will make avocado lovers worldwide happier. According to UCR News, the UCR will partner with Eurosemillas, a Spain-based crop marketing company, to introduce Luna UCR avocados to the world. The company has partnerships with growers in 15 countries (including the U.S.), so a boost in the global avocado supply is soon to come.

Although the Luna UCR project is nearing fruition, this is not the end for UCR's developments in avocado agriculture.

"We are looking to collect and plants seeds again next year," Eric Focht, UCR Botany and Plant Sciences research associate, told UCR News.

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