Courtesy Calavo GrowersEarly fall flora loca — also called “off-bloom” — often grow in mountainous areas of Mexico.The dawn of the fall avocado marketing season brings another crop of late-summer and early fall flora loca — also called “off-bloom” — product from Mexico.
Flora loca, which often grow in mountainous areas of Mexico, often has a major influence on the late summer and early fall season — if it’s high-quality fruit, said Phil Henry, president of Henry Avocado Corp., Escondido, Calif.
“It will go into similar markets and, as long as the flora loca has reached the physiological maturity and it’s reached a high enough oil content to be good, then we’re going to be bringing it in,” he said.
Flora loca often sizes up smaller than other late summer or early fall avocados, but that shouldn’t make much of a difference in sales, Henry said.
“It look is a little bit different, but it’s the same ripening process, so we’re providing it to them when it’s in the state of ripeness that they want. I think it has pretty good acceptability,” he said.
There should be no quality issues with this year’s flora loca crop, said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing for Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers Inc.
“It makes avocados almost year-round, but the problem is those blooms have varying volumes every year and blending those together to try to have the right volumes with the right flavors and the right sizes so they know
what they’re buying is just a constant challenge,” Wedin said.
There’s a practical aspect to a good flora loca crop, too, marketers note. It eases customer pressure and allows new fruit to mature a bit longer.
“Growers have done a great job of holding off until it has the right maturity. That’s always a challenge at the start of a season in making sure you have fruit that has the right maturity,” said Bob Lucy, a partner in Del Rey Avocado Co. Inc., Fallbrook, Calif.
Flora loca has proved its worth in getting the fall season off to a good start, Lucy said.
“It’s been around long enough that people know and trust it. It’s a good crop,” he said.
In terms of sizing, flora loca tends to run in the range of 60s and 70s, which is smaller than the biggest-selling size, 48, Lucy said.
But, Wedin also notes that 60s, in particular, can fetch a lot of sales.
“You can get a good price point out of them,” Wedin said.
Dan Acevedo, business development director with West Pak Inc., Murietta, Calif., described the flora loca deal as “definitely a challenge,” but it’s an important component.
“Normally, it’s a very unpredictable bloom — maybe one out of three or four years it’s good volume,” he said.
Flora local also has a slightly different appearance than standard hass avocados, he said.
“The shape is more to a pear and it has rougher texture,” he said.
It can be a challenge to handlers during the transitional period, Acevedo said.
“But one thing we do is share with our customer the bloom schedule, so they’re well aware as we transition from one bloom to another what is expected,” he said.
Early volumes of flora loca appear ample, said Ross Wileman, vice president of sales and marketing for Oxnard, Calif.-based Mission Produce Inc.