The Q&A Archives: pruning avocado trees

Question: how and when is the best time to prune a well established avocado tree? It has been in the ground for about 9 years and produces wonderful fruit

Answer: There is a direct correlation between the number of leaves your tree has and the number of fruits it can develop so keep that in mind when you are pruning. 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 - December, January, February. 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 fruiting wood off the tree for the coming year. 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. If your pruning creates major open areas in the tree that expose major branches to sunlight, the exposed branches should be painted with diluted, white latex paint. The white paint helps reflect sunlight and heat and will help prevent sun burning of the exposed branches.

Hope this information provides some guidance.

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