Answer: Avocados can be pruned. In fact, many commercial avocados are now routinely pruned to keep the trees short, so that harvesting costs and other tree maintenance expenses are reduced. Also more light shines into the trees, so that more fruit is borne on the lower branches. When should you prune? Avocados are evergreen, so light or minor trimming can be done any time of year. Major or heavy pruning should only be done in the early part of the year - January, February, March and April. Avocados bear fruit at the terminal end of twigs, so if you trim all of the outside of a tree, you will cut much of the fruit wood off the tree for the coming year. This is probably why your neighbor has suggested not to prune the tree. A light pruning here and there is OK, but remember when you cut off terminal twigs, you are also removing potential fruit. Therefore, if heavy pruning is needed, I suggest you remove one major branch at a time. To reduce the height of a tree, cut out the tallest branch one year, the next tallest branch the following year, and so on until the tree is down to the height you want it to be.The process may take three to four years. By reducing the height over several years, the tree is put under less stress, and fruit production is not drastically reduced. Pruning the sides of the tree should be done in the same way. Prune off the worst (longest) side branch one year, then the next branch in the second year, etc. Best wishes with your avocado tree!
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