Advanced Planning and Nutrient Management Play Critical Role in Preparing Groves for Heat Events

  • Oct 29, 2020

On October 15, Dr. Timothy Spann (Spann Ag), Doug O’Hara (Somis Pacific) and Danny Klittich (Redox), gathered at Pine Tree Ranch to shoot a video addressing how California avocado growers can best prepare for heat events, which have become a more frequent occurrence throughout the state.

The three California avocado experts discussed the most recent heat wave and its impact on the California avocado industry. They noted approximately 20% of trees in Ventura County exhibited stress and damage due to the heat wave, while San Diego County suffered greater consequences with between 50-60% of trees negatively impacted. The reasons for the disparate impact were the higher temperatures and poorer quality of water (high salinity) of San Diego County. It also was noted that those groves that watered in advance of the heat events fared better than those that did not. Because water allocation programs can limit a grower’s ability to water on specific days, the presenters emphasized the importance of monitoring the weather and planning accordingly.

Noting that a strong grove will fare better during these increasingly frequent heat events, the presenters outlined grove management strategies to help strengthen trees.

  • Remove diseased trees
  • Perform irrigation maintenance in the winter
  • Monitor weather conditions and prepare for temperatures to be higher than cited
  • Review and optimize irrigation plans
  • Monitor tree health and address disease and pest management issues
  • Plan ahead — especially if you are on a water allocation plan

Danny Klittich also provided an overview of current Pine Tree Ranch nutrient management strategies. The program has improved the health of the demonstration avocado groves and thereby improved their chances for managing the stresses of heat events.

  • Use of high efficiency fertility inputs and biostimulants to develop a stronger root system
  • Improving water movement through the soil and avoiding salt buildup via leaching and the use of soil surfactants
  • Utilizing higher efficiency potassium inputs to develop roots and improve the trees’ water management, which helps the tree be more responsive to heat
  • Implementing nitrogen inputs after fruit set, which help the tree produce a canopy that can cover fruit and protect it from heat
  • Adding calcium to build stronger tree tissues for wind and heat management
  • Providing zinc for crop vigor, a strong canopy and fruit sizing

The 10-minute video can be viewed on the California Avocado Commission’s YouTube channel.

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