No I am not talking about the next hurricane. It really wouldn’t make sense because they go in alphabetical order. I an talking about the avocado named Carla. Oh gee, that Carla. And it hasn’t got a thing to do about the movie, “Fish called Wanda”, starring John Cleese (wrote the screenplay), Jaime Lee Curtis, and Kevin Kline. I’ll add, as a completely unnecessary politically charged aside, Cleese described Donald Trump in 2016 as, “a narcissist, with no attention span, who doesn’t have clear ideas about anything and makes it all up as he goes along” for the sole purpose of gaining some attention to the topic of avocados. I suspect this sums up just about everything said about Trump in a slew of books including Woodward’s Fear, Omarosa’s Unhinged, and Johnston’s It’s worse than you think, none of which I’ve read.
Now, after that bizarre tangent, I return to the topic, avocado named Carla. Big, light green smooth skin avocado are grown in Florida. They are sold in the US and around the world. Carla is one variety. The avocados grown in California, are Hass varieties, and are smaller, bumpy dark green skinned ones. Rudolf Hass patented this variety and the original tree that produced the Hass variety still stands in La Habra Heights, California.
Now, Carla is a patented variety, and the allegation is another grower is illegally making copies of this variety:
Agroindustria Ocoeña, the Dominican company that holds a U.S. patent for the Carla, is suing a Miami produce distributor, Fresh Directions International, claiming that it is illegally selling Carlas in South Florida from another grower. They aren’t knock-off avocados either, the lawsuit argues. DNA tests show they are virtual Carla clones, which the suit suggests can mean only a grifted graft — somebody pruned and pilfered Carla tree branches to recreate their own orchard.
Growers routinely graft. It means growing one variety to provide the roots and initial trunk of the tree (rootstock) and then taking a cutting from another variety (scion wood) and attaching (grafting) it on to create a nearly identical plant. It is both a science and art, which has been in practice for at least 4,000 years in China. See last link. Avocados can be easily grown from seed, but to obtain consistent trees, with high yields, and disease resistance, only grafted plants are sold from nurseries, at least in Florida.
The single tree that produced the first Carla avocados was discovered by Carlos Antonio Castillo Pimentel in 1994 in his orchard in the Ocoa River Valley. The Miami Herald article then goes on to say that they don’t know why it is called “Carla” yet I think if it was pure marketing, as a tasty Carla is better than a tasty Carlos. Is this sexist?
Now, just looking at a tree, it would be really tough to know what variety was used as the scion wood. But the crux of the Miami case against Fresh Directions, will be that DNA testing of the fruit can prove that they are growing the Carla variety. Of course, the lawyers in Miami had to go into the supermarkets and buy a lot of avocados for testing. And afterwards I guess you don’t have to preserve the evidence except a small sample, as the Miami Herald article quotes one of them as saying, “We ended up eating a lot of guacamole.”
I think the Carla’s will continued to be sold, whether they are legal or illegal from the perspective of the patent owner. I think it’s all about collecting royalties, which the courts will decide. It may be tough to collect if the company is headquartered in the Dominican Republic. The patent was filed in 2006 and is for 15 years. For everyone’s benefit, an out of court agreement might be best.
Avocados are super foods. They make terrific smoothies, particularly with bananas and mango juice. See recipe at end.