For California avocado growers, January is the month that groves tend to be susceptible to frost and freeze damage. As the threat of colder weather arrives, it’s important for growers to understand the mechanics of frosts and freezes, and what they can do to protect their groves from unseasonably cold conditions.
Freezing temperatures can cause fruit loss and even tree damage in California’s avocado growing regions. In the event of a freeze or snowfall, here are some key points to remember as you assess the damage in your grove.
After a freeze, California avocado growers should look for the following indicators of freeze damage:
Because avocado trees are tropical rainforest trees, they are active year-round — and that means cultural management of avocado groves is necessary throughout the year. In fall, growers should prepare avocado groves for winter weather events, flush out accumulated salts, and apply pruning techniques and fertilization for optimal spring performance.
Winter is not the quiet time for California avocado trees that we used to think it was. In fact, a great deal happens within the avocado tree over winter — avocado tree growth cycles that determine how well the trees flower and set fruit in spring. Over winter the avocado trees can develop flower buds, continue to size fruit, the fruit accumulate dry matter, roots can grow and some types of sugars can accumulate.
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, and discolored avocados, with hues ranging from barely visible bronze to black.
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