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New Growers

This section contains useful tips and information for new California avocado growers. A more robust archive of cultural management practices can be found in the Cultural Management Library.

Because avocado trees are tropical rainforest trees, they are active year-round — and that means cultural management of avocado groves is necessary throughout the year. In fall, growers should prepare avocado groves for winter weather events, flush out accumulated salts, and apply pruning techniques and fertilization for optimal spring performance.

Irrigating California avocado trees can be challenging for several reasons. Avocado trees are heavy users of water but they have a shallow feeder root system located primarily in the top six inches of soil that are prone to drying out. The feeder roots also have very few root hairs, thus making them inefficient at absorbing water. Hillside groves with decomposed granite drain well, but they drain rather quickly. Groves with high clay content can suffer from poor drainage that leads to root rot.

For the above reasons, monitoring soil moisture in avocado groves is important.

Understanding soil salinity and irrigation are key concepts to successful avocado grove management because poor avocado yields are often caused by under-irrigation and/or high soil salinity. 

In California, poor avocado yields are often related to poor irrigation practices and soil salinity issues.

ECe. Soil salinity is measured as the salt concentration of a soil solution in terms of electrical conductivity (EC). For soil salinity, the EC is written as ECe. 

Irrigation. Providing water to soil in order to create a favorable environment for plants.

Leaching. Dissolving and transporting excess soluble salts from the root zone of the soil by applying and then draining excess water in the grove.

Healthy avocado roots play an important role in producing consistent high-quality avocado crops from healthy avocado trees. Roots provide nutrients and water for strong healthy leaves, good shoot growth, flowering and fruit set, and avocado fruit growth.

The most successful California Avocado growers apply different cultural management activities throughout the year. The key is knowing what to do and how much of a particular activity to do in order to properly support the trees at each stage of the growth cycle.

Understanding the avocado tree growth cycle for cultural management decisions is critical to identifying challenges and opportunities within your avocado grove.

Unlike deciduous fruit trees, avocado trees never go dormant, thus avocado trees have three concurrent growth cycles. They are developing the current year’s fruit and providing nutrients and resources that mature the fruit for harvest. They are supporting the needs of the year two fruit set that will be harvested the following year.

It’s important to walk your avocado groves, make observations and record the specific details about the state of your avocado trees year-round. This allows you to track changes over time and review your cultural management decisions. What should you look for and record in spring?