Preventing and Managing Wind Damage in California Avocado Groves
When it comes to potential wind damage, California avocado growers typically face two different scenarios: chronic wind exposure or severe wind events.
Avocado trees housed in windy portions of a grove are often stunted and underperform production wise. They also may be water stressed, which will impact the uptake of minerals, and their roots may be stressed due to consistent rocking caused by the wind. The only remedy, in these cases, is to create a wind shelter that minimizes wind exposure.
In windy groves, fruit often will exhibit markings that can be mistaken for diseases or pest damage. For example, black marks caused by wind may be mistaken for anthracnose post harvest rot or russet scars may lead growers to suspect their trees have persea thrips damage. While some superficial wind damage may not affect the quality of the fruit – particularly if that damage occurs when the fruit is young – some wind damage can lead to large scars or “alligator skin” that are more impactful to fruit quality.
Severe wind events often blow avocado trees over. In these instances, unless the tree is very young, consider removing the tree. Attempting to move the tree back into an upright position can further damage the roots. If the fallen trees looks like it will recover, it can remain where it is. New shoots may emerge from the trunk and form the structure for a new tree. If this occurs, large, old branches can be removed later as the new portion of the tree takes shape. If you do remove the tree, avoid planting a new tree close to where the old tree existed unless you remove the stump and sterilize the soil. The roots from the old tree could become infected by Phytophthora root rot and thus infect a new tree.
Strong wind events also can break limbs or blow fruit off the trees. After a storm, windfall should be properly disposed of and broken branches removed. It is important to monitor trees after severe storms, paying close attention to signs of wilting that may indicate stressed roots or a broken branch that was missed during earlier assessments.
For more information about preventing and managing wind damage, visit the California Avocado Commission’s wind protection online library.