Avocado disorder and diseases

Good quality avocados are free from diseases and disorders. Customers are not willing to purchase fruit presenting rots or damaged skin. Furthermore fruit that looks good on the outside but presenting brown flesh or soft texture will not lead to happy customers. There are dozens of different diseases and disorders, which are not always easy to recognize. A good diagnosis of the fruit’s health is important. By recognizing the symptoms of a disease or disorder, it can be linked to the cause. If you know the cause, you know what measures can be taken to prevent the disease or disorder in the future.

Disorders and diseases of avocado cannot be healed. Early detection may help to reduce further incidence. Photo by Ramil Gibadullin/Shutterstock.com

Disease management avocado

Identification of avocado disorders and diseases usually takes place when symptoms are visually observed through the supply chain. Some symptoms are sometimes visible from the outside, while others can only be found internally after cutting. It is important to detect the quality issues as early as possible in the supply chain to reduce further incidence. Retailers can also benefit from knowledge about disorders they may encounter. For them, it is important to know whether the cause lies in a previous stage in the supply chain or is due to their own operations. Chilling injury is an example of a disorder which can appear in the store, but is usually a result of too low storage temperature before delivery to the retail.

Examples of avocado disorders and diseases

  1. Internal damage caused by bruising. Photo by Liz Grogan/Shutterstock.com

    Handling damage

    Rough handling can easily lead to damage to the avocados, at each stage of the supply chain. For example, the effect of rough harvesting can manifest itself in bruises and injuries at a later stage. Bumpy transport ride to the packing station will develop similar symptoms. This mechanical damage not only makes the fruit unattractive, but often also leads to secondary rot development.

  2. Avocado showing symptoms of chilling injury. Photo by WFBR.

    Chilling injury

    Symptoms of chilling injury for avocado include irregular coloration (dark patches), a bit sunken in the skin. The flesh will show problems like flesh greying, vascular browning and pulp spot. This disorder is caused by storage below minimum temperature. Sensitivity and severity of damage depends on the duration and depth of the temperature. Adapting fruit progressively to low temperatures might reduce chilling injury sensitivity
  3. Vascular browning in avocado. Photo by WFBR.

    Vascular browning

    Too high or too low temperatures during growth of the avocado may cause problems in the vascular bundles in the fruit flesh, causing vascular browning. It normally starts at the blossom end of the seed and is already visible when fruit is cut, but becomes more pronounced thereafter
  4. Internal browning avocado. Photo by WFBR.

    Internal browning

    This disorder can be observed when the fruit is cut in half. The avocado pulp may become brown as a result of ageing or suffocation during CA transport. The disorder usually spreads in the flesh from the blossom end of the fruit. The tissue will not ripen anymore, it becomes rubbery and sometimes smells badly
  5. Stem end rot. Photo by WFBR.

    Fungal rot

    Several types of pathological diseases can occur, such as Anthracnose, Dothiorella and Rhizopus. Fungal infections may be visible on the outside via small brown spots on the skin or large patches, which can continue in the flesh as the fruit ripens. If the infections entered via the stem end, they will cause stem end rot, visible as discolouration of the flesh at the stem end, which progresses through the pulp through the vascular bundles. The infection may already have happened in the orchard, but often the decay only becomes visible during post harvest
  6. Lenticel damage. Photo by WFBR.

    Lenticel damage

    Some avocado cultivars have a more rough skin, with protruding lenticels. These lenticels, when damaged, can cause black spots, a kind of 'measles', on the skin. The lenticels are damaged more easily when fruits are fully hydrated (e.g. because of rain during or just before harvest or recent irrigation).
  7. Shrivelling. Photo by LesdaMore/Shutterstock.com


    Avocados are vulnerable to water loss. During ripening the fruit may lose 5-6% of it starting weight. Shrivelling of the skin is the consequence of (excessive) water loss. The risk of shrivelling symptoms increases with lower relative humidity, higher temperature, longer storage time and damage to the skin. Controlling water loss starts right at harvest by bringing the fruits into the shade.
"Good orchard sanitation and good harvesting practices, like not harvesting with rain and careful handling, help to reduce rots greatly."
Hans de Wild, Consultant Postharvest Technology

Did you know?

  1. Rots in avocado are often called stem-end rot and body rot.

    Based on the location where the infection enters it is either called stem end rot (entrance stem end), or body rot (entrance somewhere via the skin).
  2. Brown spots caused by fungi can be recognized by looking at the skin and flesh

    Brown skin spots caused by fungi penetrate into the flesh. This distinguishes fungal symptoms from chilling injury.

  3. Avocados can suffer from measles

    The combination of high infection pressure and physical damage to the skin may result in small soft black circles of infection called measles during storage which may spread after removal from storage