If you have sliced open a ripe Hass avocado recently, you probably owe a debt of gratitude to Hank Brokaw.
Brokaw, who passed away in Santa Paula Feb. 18 at age 82, was a pioneering grower. His attention to detail in cultivation and grafting led him to produce a disease-resistant variety of the Hass avocado tree that could take root and produce fruit in a much bigger area of coastal California.
Brokaw’s research led him to take a prominent role at the International Avocado Society, and he’s recognized industry wide as one of the founders of the World Avocado Congress. His skills and keen observations helped develop the avocado from a seasonal, niche product to a global phenomenon that could be produced and delivered to consumers year round.
Brokaw traveled worldwide evaluating areas with avocado-growing potential, but he stayed rooted in rural Ventura County. He remained a grower in the Santa Paula area and a member of a cooperative in Saticoy. Our condolences to his family and all who knew him.