Zutano Avocado Grow Guide

There are two kinds of people who love Zutano Avocados:

  • The Grafting Addicts
  • The Fruit Maximizers

Although it possesses a milder flavor compared to some of California’s richer and nuttier avocados, the Zutano Avocado serves significant roles in both commercial avocado operations and the avocado grafting trade.

With that being said, this grow guide will cover everything that you need to know about Zutano Avocado:

Table of Contents

Zutano Avocado Tree Characteristics

The Zutano Avocado Tree is a Flowering Type B Avocado. In other words, the female flowers open in the afternoon and male flowers in the morning. In order to maximize Zutano’s fruit production, the tree should be planted near a Flowering Type A Avocado with a similar fruiting season. 

This includes avocado cultivars such as:

  • Hass (CA)
  • Pinkerton (CA)
  • Jan Boyce (CA)

Fun Fact: Speaking of pollination, Zutano is extensively utilized as a pollinator in many commercial avocado groves in California.

A pile of mature and ripe Zutano Avocados
Image Credit: Grossman Avocados

Zutano’s fruit production consistently ranges from good to heavy. The avocados themselves are small-sized, pyriform-shaped fruits that typically weigh between 0.5 and 1.0 lb.

Despite the fruit containing a medium-sized and pointed seed, Zutano Avocados have a decent flesh-to-seed ratio.

Yet, despite the Zutano Avocado Tree’s capacity to yield hundreds of pounds of fruit, here’s another fun fact for you (I’m in a fun mood today): Zutano is not primarily cultivated for its fruit.

Apart from being an excellent pollinator, Zutano is also prized for its seeds. Due to the tree’s robust vigor, it serves as an excellent grafting rootstock, particularly for avocado growers in California.

A pile of mature and ripe Zutano Avocados and Bacon Avocados
Zutano (LEFT) vs Bacon (RIGHT)
Image Credit: Grossman Avocados

The Zutano Avocado is a Guatemalan X Mexican Hybrid. Similar to other Guatemalan X Mexican Hybrids like Hass, Lamb HassSuper HassBacon and Winter Mexican, Zutano is highly cold tolerant and able to withstand temperatures as low as 22º F, making it one of the most cold hardy avocados available.

Finally, the Zutano Avocado Tree has a very vigorous and upright growth habit.

Zutano Avocado Flavor Profile

The shiny green skin of the Zutano Avocado has a pebbled and leathery texture that is thin and easily peelable.

Additionally, the fruit showcases small yellow flecks reminiscent of those found on a Fuerte.

A very large and mature Zutano Avocado hanging on the tree
Image Credit: DeCarli Farms

Slicing into the fruit reveals a bright yellow flesh that is light, deliciously creamy, and smooth, with a seed that pops out easily. While Zutano does contain minimal fiber, it’s not objectionable. Despite an oil content ranging from 14% to 16%, the fruit typically also has a high moisture content, which can sometimes dilute the flavor.

In terms of flavor, the texture and taste of Zutano are remarkably similar to that of Bacon Avocado. However, I tend to prefer Bacon over Zutano due to its better texture (fewer fibers) and slightly richer flavor.

A mature and ripe Zutano Avocado cut in half with a dog in the background
Image Credit: Grossman Avocados

While I probably wouldn’t grow Zutano for eating out of hand, I do believe there is something to be said about using mildly flavored avocados for cooking. For example, if you don’t like strong nutty flavors in your guacamole and instead want to focus on other flavors, Zutano could be an ideal choice.

At the end of the day, Zutano is great for those looking for a very mild avocado flavor that doesn’t emphasize nuttiness.

Zutano Avocado Season (And When To Pick)

In California, Zutano’s season ranges from December – February.

For the best-tasting fruit, I recommend waiting to harvest closer to January. And while Zutanos can remain on the tree for quite some time, don’t wait too long, as the fruit can brown and crack if left on the tree for too long.

A closeup picture of a immature and unripe Zutano Avocado
Image Credit: Grossman Avocados

The best time to pick Zutano Avocados are when they are mature on the tree. From a color perspective, Zutano changes very little during the maturation process and will remain a lighter green. As a result, one should check if the fruit: 1) is full size 2) feels soft and 3) can gently be removed from the tree.

Moreover, the presence of a yellow stem is another easy visual cue to help judge the fruit’s maturity.

That said, determining an avocado’s maturity can be difficult and require some trial and error. As a result, I have developed a repeatable process that has worked great for me:

  1. Starting November 16, pull a single fruit off the tree and allow it ripen for 3 – 8 days (at room temperature)
    • Delicately create small indents all around the fruit using your fingers.
      • If you detect a mixture of hard and soft spots, the fruit is not yet ripe. 
      • Conversely, uniform softness (not super soft) throughout the fruit indicates that it is ready for consumption.
  2. Taste the fruit – is the taste or consistency off ?
    • If the fruit tastes great, the rest of the avocados on our tree are ready to be harvested
    • If the fruit tastes sour/foul/rancid, wait another month and repeat the process with another single fruit
      • Fruit that are picked too early will often become black/inedible.

Side Note: I promise I didn’t just pull ‘November 16’ out of thin air! In reality, that date is the recommended ‘first harvest date’ for Zutano as set by the California Avocado Commission.

After confirming that the avocados on our tree are mature, we can begin developing our ‘avocado pipeline.’ This involves picking some fruit to ripen on the counter for more immediate use while also placing others in the refrigerator to be used later. By adopting this approach, we can ensure a continuous supply of ripe avocados.

Zutano Avocado History

The Zutano Avocado was initially propagated in Fallbrook, California by W.L. Truitt in 1926.

As we discussed earlier, in California, Zutano is primarily grown both as a rootstock and for commercial planting, serving primarily as a key pollinator for Hass Avocados.

However, what I find particularly interesting is that Zutano’s market price often falls below the cost of inputs required for fruit cultivation. As a result, commercial growers often prune their Zutano trees after they’ve provided pollination to Hass, preventing fruit production to avoid financial losses.

Zutano Avocado Tree For Sale

Zutano Avocado Trees are extremely common in the California Nursery Trade 😊

That being said, much like Sharwil, I have personally never seen Zutano for sale in Florida.

Conclusion

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If you have any questions regarding anything mentioned in this grow guide, please comment them below! This way, others can also benefit from the answer to the same question. For any other questions or growing tips that you think may be helpful, feel free to use the contact form and drop me a line.

Thank you for reading! 🙂

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Matthew Rowlings

I have an Associates Degree in Biology from the University of Florida and am also an active Florida Master Gardener. I am located in Central Florida (Zone 10A) and have 6+ years of experience with growing 20+ types of tropical trees. You can learn more about me and why I started Tropical Tree Guide on my about page.

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