Assess Avocado Groves to Identify Problems in Advance
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 — shoot growth, fruiting and root growth.
The basic principles of grove assessment are:
Read the trees
Identify problem as early as you can
Take action to fix the problem
Ideally, you want to walk through the avocado groves year-round to identify problems in advance. Good avocado grove management often involves applying a “fix” in one season that will have a positive effect for an upcoming season.
Spring is one of the best times to assess the health of the avocado grove. Strong healthy trees with overwintered leaves of good quality are the most desirable. In spring, the leaves should be a healthy green and plentiful in order to help provide the nutrients needed for spring flowering and avocado fruit set.
As an example, if you walk the grove in spring and note that your trees have shed a large number of leaves during winter, it could be because the tree has had to shed them in order to preserve resources drained by heavy crops or fruit left on the tree longer than normal. If a tree is recovering from a heavy on-crop, the trees will be exhausted and fail to set a good crop despite taking a year's "rest" from carrying fruit.
The challenge is that poor leaf quality in spring cannot necessarily be fixed during that same spring season. If your avocado trees need improved nutrition, they are in need of fertilizer applications — and that is best done in fall. Having to do something in fall to avoid a problem in spring requires the avocado grower to always be looking back but thinking ahead. This is why successful production of avocado fruit is complicated and challenging.
In the example above, you can apply fertilizer to the affected spring trees during the upcoming fall season. While that will not necessarily benefit you that year, it will set you ahead for the following year. You’ve also learned a valuable lesson — you need to think ahead (in fall) and meet the needs of the trees’ upcoming seasons (spring fruit set) by providing the necessary nutrients in advance.
There is considerable value in making observations about your avocado groves year round. Carry a small notebook and pencil (or iphone or tablet) as you walk your grove. Take notes about the health of your trees, when growth stages occur and jot down ideas. Over time you can use these notes to review the success of your cultural management practices and the notes can be shared with your farm advisor.
For further information, please contact your farm advisor. To find your farm advisor, please visit: http://fruitsandnuts.ucdavis.edu/ce/locate_advisor/.