Frostproof man determined to be the first to commercially grow avocados in Central Florida

If you are going out to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, there's a good chance you're going to be eating guacamole – which is made from avocados. 

Avocados aren't currently grown in this part of Florida, but Frostproof grower Mitch Mclellan said he's determined to be the first to pull it off. 

He said he's always been energized by a challenge, but growing avocados may prove to be his most difficult. Growing avocados commercially in Central Florida is something that has never successfully been done before. 

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"I’ve done my research on it. I know how avocados grow," Mclellan told FOX 13. "I know what they require to grow, how much fertilizer, how much labor intensity."

The decision to try and grow avocados came after consistently losing ground in an ongoing battle with citrus. Like all growers, he has been fighting citrus greening. 

Last year was the final straw as Hurricane Ian uprooted what was left of his grove and washed away his remaining trees. So, he began working with experts from the University of Florida.

The only place that avocados are commercially grown in Florida right now is in the Homestead area just outside Miami. They grow well there, because the weather is so warm.

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The challenge to overcome locally is the chilly weather that can come during parts of the year.

"The biggest kicker is the potential for freezing weather," said Dr. Jonathan Crane, at UF’s Tropical Research and Education Center.

Mclellan lives on Lake Cinch in Frostproof. He said the warm winds off the lake have kept hard freezes at bay for decades, so he feels half the battle may be over.

"I am 100% confident," he said.