Book Review

Avocado Grower's Handbook

by Frank D. Koch,
edited by Paul Thomson

Bonsall Publications, Bonsall, CA. 1983. Reprinted in 1996. 273 pages.
(See CRFG Book Service for prices.)

Reviewed by Claire Guggenheim (7/1996)

Since I signed on with the Book Service, I have gotten several requests for more information on avocados than we have in our Fruit Fact. When I heard that Paul Thomson, one of our co-founders, had published a book by Frank Koch in 1983, I was intrigued. I called Paul to find out how to get the book and was told that it was out of print, but he had a copy I could peruse.

According to Mr. Koch, this book was designed as a "'how-to' book that growers can use to understand the avocado business as well as furnishing a historical background." Acquiring a grove in 1960, he became smitten with the avocado through the efforts of his farm advisor, Don Gustafson, and neighbor, Reinhold Gerber. Later, working for W.L. Johnson, he provided grove care and development services to area growers who began asking that he publish his information. He eventually published a three-page tract, which led to a column in the Avocado Grower and adult education classes in Escondido, San Marcos and Mira Costa Community College.

Even though the book was published in 1983, most of the information is still timely and has a wealth of information for anyone interested in growing avocados.

Primarily written for the commercial grower, it covers such topics as grove development, care and maintenance, pest and diseases, orchard operations, marketing, buying an avocado orchard, financial considerations, nutrition and even alternative crops. However, within these topics the amateur grower can glean lots of useful information for his small planting. Under Grove Development, in a section on climate, he explains how cold air drains down a slope and the effect this has on site selection. In a section on soil, he describes how soils are produced and the effect of different kinds of soil on water consumption. He addresses the fruit-removal problem in groves on steep slopes and describes a portable system that allows picked fruit to be funneled into a canvas chute that then moves the fruit down the slope and into the waiting bins without bruising. Under Grove Care and Maintenance, he discusses irrigation, salt accumulation and leaching, fertilizer elements and application methods, and much more. Under Orchard Operations, he covers grafting, wind and cold damage, pruning and training.

Incorporated within its 273 pages of well-written and easy-to-read material, you will also find 51 black-and-white line drawings, photos or diagrams, 20 tables, six charts and six leaflets.

After reading the book, I made arrangements with Paul Thomson for CRFG to reprint the book and have it available through our Book Service. Anyone interested in avocados will not be disappointed with this book, I'm sure.

© Copyright 1996, California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.
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