Slow, Methodical Planting Ensures Avocado Trees Are Healthy
In a recent blog post, Dr. Ben Faber focuses on the importance of taking a measured approach when planting new avocado trees. In the post he elaborates on the importance of properly testing and preparing the soil, and once that has been completed ensuring the tree is planted at the proper depth.
Testing and preparing the soil
Prior to planting a new avocado tree, it is important for growers to evaluate and test the soil to address any issues beforehand. In doing so, growers can avoid costly post-planting corrections. When analyzing the soil, growers should assess its physical, biological and chemical aspects. How well does the soil drain? What challenges will the terrain present when pruning or harvesting? Is the soil heavy and therefore the trees should be planted in berms to encourage drainage? Examine what is currently growing there and whether it is thriving or not as the health of existent plants can be an indicator of potential soil issues that need to be addressed.
It’s also important to conduct leaf analysis of existent trees and pay special attention to the pH of the soil. Correcting the pH of the soil — which should be between 6 and 7 — is much easier to do prior to planting. Once a tree is planted, adjusting the pH can be time consuming, expensive and threaten the life of the tree. It’s also important to test the salinity, sodium and chloride levels. Soils that are high in salt can negatively impact a newly planted tree almost immediately. By testing the soil and leaching it of salts in advance, growers can create a more ideal growing environment for a young tree.
Proper planting depth
The depth an avocado tree is planted at is critically important because the roots need to be near the surface. If the crown of the root system — the area where the roots first spread out from the stem — is buried deeper than it was in the nursery, the tree can be asphyxiated. Therefore, be certain to bury the stem at the same level it was in the nursery.
Once a tree is planted, the soil often shifts as it settles and is watered. Therefore, do not dig a hole that is too big as that will lead to too much loose soil around the newly planted stem. Also keep in mind that if a planting mix is added to the loose soil around the newly planted tree, that mix can decompose over time and lead to the tree sinking further into the soil. And when planting trees in berms, remember the soil also will settle over time. To err on the side of caution, plant the tree high and monitor the stem depth as the soil settles.