How Much Water Does It Take to Grow an Avocado?
There’s no denying the popularity of avocados. After all, they’re an incredibly healthy food and add a nice creamy touch to many different meals. However, their eco-friendliness is not so straightforward, considering it takes an average of 63 gallons of water to grow just over 2 pounds of avocados under normal conditions.
Worse than that, in more arid climates like Chile or Mexico, where many avocados are grown and imported from, it can take up to 85 gallons of water to produce a single avocado!
To put this into perspective, the average American uses 2.1 gallons of water per minute in their shower. So, if you were to waste one avocado grown in Chile, that’s the equivalent of running the shower for nearly an hour with no one in it.
Why Do Avocados Take So Much Water?
The primary reason avocados need so much water is because of their root systems. They have shallow roots that don’t go much deeper than 6–8 inches. As a result, they cannot search deeper in the soil to find water that hasn’t dried up. And if the soil drains quickly, this leaves them little opportunity to absorb the water they need.
In addition, this makes them susceptible to drowning if the soil they’re in does not drain properly. So, there is a delicate balance between too much water and not enough when watering the trees.
Avocado Water Needs Compared to Other Fruits and Veggies?
This chart helps put the water needs of avocados compared to other fruits and vegetables we consume regularly.
|Plant||Average Water Needs|
|Carrots (1 pound)||23 gallons|
You’ll notice that some of these plants take significantly more water than avocados. Typically, these don’t grow in areas where water shortages are a problem. For example, mangos grow in tropical climates with plenty of rainfall to prevent water shortages for other farmers, so the fact that they need so much water isn’t as big a deal.
The Problem with Avocado Water Use
The issue arises with watering avocados because of where the water comes from. In countries like Chile or Mexico, where the demand for water to grow avocados is even higher than average, there isn’t a significant amount of rainfall to offset the water usage. This leads to everyday folks and small farmers suffering from water shortages.
- Many people are rationed to a barely liveable amount of water.
- Other farmers can’t grow crops or raise animals.
- Local ecosystems are being destroyed.
- People who are advocating for saving water are receiving death threats because they are interfering with business.
We’re not saying to stop eating avocados; they are delicious and nutritious. However, these things are worth knowing so that we can pay attention to where our food is coming from and do our best to support growers who are doing so safely and ethically. In addition, having this knowledge may encourage us to make extra effort to ensure food isn’t going to waste, especially avocados.
Featured Image Credit: marketacerna.com, Shutterstock