Post-freeze Avocado Grove Management

  • Apr 17, 2013

After a freeze, California avocado growers should look for the following freeze indicators:

  • Firm, brittle, curled leaves
  • Water‐soaked or discolored wood or twigs
  • Older branches and trunks splitting and losing bark
  • Discolored avocados, with hues ranging from barely visible bronze to black

Post freeze avocado tree care

  • Soon after leaves fall, whitewash defoliated trees with white-latex or lime-based paint that is water diluted (not too diluted, as paint should appear white on tree). This will protect damaged wood from sunburn, which can cause further damage.
  • Do not apply dressings — or additional paint‐on sealants — to cracked bark, as it might strengthen bacterial or fungal infections.
  • Pruning can be postponed until spring or summer, when new growth develops.
  • Because freeze-damaged trees require less water, irrigation should be done judiciously and reduced in proportion to lost canopy, according to their evapotranspiration requirements (be cautious at this stage, as waterlogged root zones can further stress trees).
  • Survey damaged trees before applying fertilizer, to identify what minerals are lacking, as nitrogen applications are likely to trend downward. It is suggested that avocado growers withhold nitrogen fertilization until midsummer (or longer). However, zinc sprays often are applied to expanding young foliage.

Post freeze avocado harvest

  • Because stem-damaged fruit will drop within seven to ten days of a freeze, it should be picked first, assuming it is mature and not otherwise harmed by the cold.
  • While stem damage may be apparent, fruit might be unscathed.  When stems are completely girdled by a brown band, fruit will drop. Drops typically occur within seven to 10 days, following a freeze
  • Do not pick any discolored avocados (barely visible bronze to black).

For further picking advice during freeze conditions, growers should contact a University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) specialist and/or their respective handlers.