avocado trees dying - Knowledgebase Question

Redlands, Ca
Question by Asburyfamily
November 3, 2009
We live in California and have 70 mature avocado trees on our property, but many of them are dying. The leaves have fallen off, with bare branches all over.I think it is from too much water. We irrigate on a flood system, and if we don't turn off the water it runs for 4 days twice a month. I say this is too much, my husband disagrees. Thanks for any help. Sharon

Answer from NGA
November 3, 2009


Frequency and amount of water your trees require really depends upon the growing season and your soil type. Some soils drain quickly, others hold lots of moisture for extended periods of time. Avocado trees may not need irrigation during the winter rainy season, but watch for prolonged mid-winter dry spells. Over irrigation can induce root rot which is the most common cause of avocado failure. To test to see if irrigation is necessary, dig a hole 9 inches deep and test the soil by squeezing. If it is moist (holds together), do not irrigate; if it crumbles in the hand, it may be watered. Watch soil moisture carefully at the end of the irrigating season. Avocados tolerate some salts, though they will show leaf tip burn and stunting of leaves. On the plus side, deep irrigation will leach salt accumulation. There are some fungal diseases that can cause premature leaf drop so that's something to investigate. You can collect some of the affected leaves and take them into your local cooperative extension office for diagnosis. Your local office is: San Bernardino County Cooperative Extension, 777 East Rialto Avenue, San Bernardino, CA 92415-0730, Phone: (909) 387-2171. Helpful folks can suggest controls and discuss general tree care with you. Good luck with your avocado trees!

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