How to Care for Your Avocado Grove After a Fire

  • Aug 09, 2019

After a fire, it’s important to walk the grove in order to assess the varying level of damage to trees within the grove. This will have to be done repeatedly over the months following a fire, as it is not always immediately apparent to what extent a tree has been damaged.

One of the first steps in fire recovery is repairing the irrigation system. While buried irrigation pipes are usually safe during a fire, you may need to use roll out poly-hose for irrigation purposes in order to quickly set up temporary irrigation zones based on the level of fire damage to trees.

  • Trees without damage — should be watered as soon as possible after the fire
  • Trees with completely brown leaves — do not use water at first; slowly return to normal irrigation cycle as tree recovers
  • Heavily damaged trees (fire damage to the trunk) — do not use as much water, but feeder roots will need to be watered with short irrigation sessions; start with a one-hour irrigation, but monitor soil closely to prevent creating root rot conditions caused by saturated soil

As for pruning, there are generally three approaches to choose from. The first is to wait three months before pruning away damaged or dead wood. This practice generally allows the trees to recover production faster. However, once the trees are pruned and/or stumped, the irrigation block will contain a mix of full-grown and partially pruned or stumped trees, which complicates a grower’s irrigation and fertilization practices.

Another option is to reduce the size of all trees in an irrigation block by stumping them. This will take that particular block out of production for two years, but it does allow the grower to fertilize and irrigate uniformly across the block. If you have heavily-damaged trees in certain irrigation blocks, this may be the best option as stumping is the best practice for trees with this level of damage.

The third option is to cut back trees to about 12’ in height. In this manner, most of the damaged and dead wood is removed and all the trees are uniform in size.

Finally, all fire-damaged trees should be whitewashed on the south side of the limbs.

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