The fruit-bearing branch growth pattern of an avocado tree is periodic — with alternating periods of growth and rest. Buds are established during periods of rest. This entire growth process — from flower initiation to harvest — takes two years. The stages of avocado shoot growth are as follows:
- Vegetative bud to vegetative shoot – the shoot grows and then stops.
- Buds either develop into reproductive buds that produce fruit or remain vegetative (produce wood, but no fruit). When avocado trees receive high levels of nitrogen their buds tend to remain vegetative. If the avocado trees receive high amounts of potassium, they tend to develop floral/fruit-bearing buds.
- Flower buds develop over winter in preparation for spring flowering.
- Once the flower buds open, they grow rapidly into flowers.
- After the flowers open, fruit set occurs.
- Unfit fruit are shed by the avocado tree. The remaining fruit will stay on the tree and grow until harvested.
- Avocados do not ripen on the avocado trees. The ripening process begins once the fruit have been harvested.