Because of unique natural barriers — the Pacific Ocean on the west, and the Andes Mountains to the east — Chile is protected from agricultural pests. These natural barriers, combined with Chile’s special climate, soil and water, make Chile a natural and reliable provider to the world of great quantities of high quality avocados.
A Mountain Crop
Avocado trees are one of the few species that can be cultivated commercially on hillsides, since the trees are not vulnerable to pests or diseases, and don’t require constant monitoring.
Due to Chile's unique landscape, hillside cultivation has the advantage of being practically frost-free, because the cold air moves quickly to lower altitudes. For this reason, the great majority of the groves planted in the last ten years have been established on hillside locations.
Frost is not the only factor in ensuring good production from avocado trees. Blossoming temperatures are extremely important, and because of its central region’s temperate climate, Chile is an exceptional growing region.
Climatic conditions in the producing regions in Chile have produced Chilean Hass avocados of outstanding quality. And after harvest, Chilean Hass avocados travel very well in long-distance shipments.
Because of its status as a 'phytosanitary island' (surrounded by the Atacama desert to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Andes to the east and Antarctica to the south), Chile has a further advantage of being isolated and protected against pests and diseases.
Land and Water
Chile has a variety of excellent soil types and good drainage for growing avocados. Water from mountainside streams and glaciers in the Andes ensures adequate drainage and fertilization, thanks to its high quality and low salt content.
Cultivation and Production
In 1955, there were approximately 2,200 hectares (5,436 acres) of avocado groves in Chile, which yielded about 3 million kilograms of avocados. By 1974, it was common to see groves of the Mexícola, Champion, Negra de la Cruz, and Fuerte varieties in the Quillota-La Cruz area, in soils and climates now occupied by the Hass variety.
Cirén-Corfo (1993) indicated that by 1992 the acreage devoted to avocado production had reached 9,376 hectares (23,170 acres) in Chile, representing an increase of 213% in 18 years.
Avocado cultivation began increasing at a rapid rate in 1988, thanks to the success achieved in the export markets, mainly North America. Of the total area under cultivation, the Hass variety accounted for 60%, Fuerte 14% and Bacon 9%. The growth of the Hass variety has become even more marked in subsequent years.
It is estimated that there are approximately 29,000 hectares (71,660 acres) under cultivation today, with the Hass variety accounting for 26,000 hectares (64,250 acres), mostly located from Region 4 to Region 6.