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avocado trees keep dying

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  • avocado trees keep dying


    We can't seem to grow avocadoes successfully. The first tree was in an exposed site, and although we watered it regularly, after losing it leaves and then regrowing some new ones last summer, the top growth went brown, and then the main trunk went brown and black. We tried another avo this summer, but this time it was in a sheltered location, but the same thing happened. That's $80 down the drain - not sure if I want to go through it again. Would they be hardier if I grew them from seed? It just means a loooong wait for some fruit.



  • #2
    avo trees

    Hi chookie,
    I had similar problems with avacado trees, but problems I had were caused by frost. You mentioned that this happened in summer so that more than likely rules out frost.
    Have you used any sprays close to them?
    I've heard you can't grow them from seed, because although you might get a nice looking tree it will never get proper fruit.
    Whats the most important thing on earth? .....WATER. Without it we have nothing.


    • #3
      g'day ksenia,

      um this might be silly question but is it a suitable species for you area?

      would guess down there you would need to grow them on a northern aspect that goets good sun and warmth in winter, once the reach around 2 meters high the frost shouldn't bother them too much.

      apart from that would suggest dig a good size hole and then back fill as you plant it with amended soil, use plenty of gypsum in the hole if it is clay, plant the feeder roots of the root ball higher up than the surrounding soil level if drainage is a problem, that is about to thop 1/3 of the root ball.

      make sure you have the right type i think there is a hass that does well down your way. we grew ours up here in full on sun in sandy loam they loved it. watered well for the first couple weeks or so until they settle in and then as needed we heavily mulched all our food trees.



      • #4
        Avo's are susceptible to phytopthera. Perhaps your soil has a lot of the wrong kind of fungus for the avo? There are supposed to resistant rootstocks that might oversome the problem if this is what is causing it. Are there healthy avocadoes in your area?
        caretaking 14 acres of ridge and gully land at Huelo, Maui. 400-500 ft above sea level
        wet tropics/subtropics


        • #5
          Avocado set backs

          I planted two trees from seed in an exposed position south coast of NSW only 3 years ago. Every July through to October/November the hot, dry westerly winds have burnt these trees severely and one didn't make it through the second season. The other one is going strongly despite this regular, seasonal set back. I'm strongly considering planting a windbreak of sheoaks on the western side of my avos.
          Best wishes.


          • #6
            Chickiepoo, actually, it's important for avocadoes to be in well-drained soil, and to be watered deeply, but not regularly. If you soil is clay or stays wet or you water too much, then they won't make it.

            And it's important not to improve the planting hole with any organic matter, just your native soil, then the roots will have to seek beyond the planting hole for nutrients. Scar the sides of the planting hole with the side of the shovel if your soil is firm, so that the roots can "escape" the hole. If the sides of the planting hole are slick, they could become a kind of barrier wall that little roots can't get through.

            Be sure to allow their dropped leaves to accumulate into a thick mulch under the tree out to the drip line. Until that happens, put a thick leaf mulch of whatever you can get under there, at least 3-4 inches thick. Dampen this mulch layer lightly once a week so that it can break down and the worms can take it into the soil.

            My avocadoes made it through 5 degrees below freezing this winter, something that only happens here every 10 years or so, but they were fine.
            "Life flows on within you and without you"...George Harrison
            Coastal California, USA, Mediterranean climate - no summer rain, a little frost mid-winter


            • #7
              Hi everyone

              thanks for the ideas. We have heavy compacted clay here, but both trees were planted into established beds, with good existing soil. The soil was mixed with a bit of cow manure before it was backfilled. They were both Hass (our favourite), both about a metre tall, and both bought from nurseries within a 20km radius. They were well mulched, although occasionally the chooks would scratch it away, to my husband's despair (I have a soft spot for them and let then have occasional access to the tree). We would always sweep the mulch back on, though. It sounds like they were "burnt" as Suze described. With the second tree, as soon as the tip starting going brown we knew it was a gonner, like the one from the previous summer. That's why we planted the second one in the dappled shade of some purple climber (don't know the name) which sheltered it from hot western side. That avo received full sun in the morning, and dappled shade in the arvo. I was surprised when that one died, too.

              As for fungus in the soil, I would have no idea about that. At my son's playgroup someone's avocado was doing well because there was a huge bowl with free avos for the taking. So other people can grow them in my area. And we haven't sprayed anything, either.

              I read in a Jackie French book somewhere that painting the trunk white with water-based paint can keep a young avocado cooler or reduce it's chance of being burnt. Maybe I will try this next time....if there is a next time.

              As sweetpea suggested, I will start dampening the mulch under all my trees. It's just occurred to me that they won't get fed through the mulch if the mulch is bone dry and not breaking down. When is a good time to feed avocados, say with liquid manure or something which doesn't need to break down to provide nutrients? Is it alright in the middle of summer in scorching weather? I thought about it but didn't want to overwhelm the poor thing.

              Thanks again everyone



              • #8
                Hi, I have heard that growing avos from seed is fine and I am growing lots of them. The best seeds would be the ones from the trees near you that are successful. To grow them from seed would only add an extra year or two before harvest IMO. Of course you need both A and B varieties , so I am growing lots so I know cross polination will occur. I can always cull them later. The ones that are doing the best are shaded under other plants. I have heard this is how they grow best. As an understorey plant that then will push through the canopy. Have you dug them up and looked at the roots? Avocadoes are extreemely susceptable to dieback which will killl them quickly. Even many nurseries have been found to be contaminated by dieback. Ask your nursery if the rootstock is dieback resistant.
                When I was working in WA it was generally understtod there that as dieback spread so easily, all roads were considered contaminated by the fungus. It is easily spread through vehicle moving bits of dirt on tyres) even shoes have spread dieback through vast quantities of National Park.

                Not only does it kill all Banksias, bottlebrushes, hakias and many grapes and fruit trees and even some Eucalypts but more half of the huge variety of native plants will die. They die quite rapidly as the fungus spreads through the soil ( most rapidlly downhill and in wetter times of the year). You can see the "front " as it turns the vegetation brown. After some time different vegetation will take over. In WA Bush it was a more uniform reedy undergrowth that followed a dieback infestation.

                Dieback phytopthera cinnamoni is a fungus which attaches to the outside of the roots and prevents nutrient uptake. An educated eye can identify it by lesions on the roots and the way it kills the leaves from the tips as they are depleted of nutrients. Also , select other plants around it which die.
                The remedy is phosphorus acid which is injected into the cambium layer ( just under the bark). Or try somewhere else.

                Business: New Leaf Organic Gardening
                Pleasure: St. Leonards Community Garden


                • #9

                  I had your name spelled wrong! sorry! I had you sounding more like a biker's girlfriend

                  Are you growing citrus trees? Are they okay? They like the same conditions as avocadoes.

                  Sounds like your heavy clay soil is the main culprit. If the tree gets stressed by too-wet roots, it can get other things like fungus problems, etc.

                  If you want to try again, try planting it in a raised bed about 4 feet by 4 feet by 2 foot high mound (sorry, my metrics fail me here) of your native clay amended with granite sand (if that's available it's a great source of minerals) or river sand (not sea sand, as it has salt in it) About 1/3 sand, mix it really well. Also dig out below the tree about a 2 foot square and amend that soil with sand as well. Planting the tree up like that will allow for better draining and more aeration. Than mulch with compost and leaf mulch on top. Water it once well, then watch it, and don't water again until the top soil under the mulch looks almost dry.

                  If the day gets hot, it's better to cover a young tree with shade cloth or a white sheet, than to soak the roots with water.

                  Once the tree is established you can deep-soak the trees. I let the water dribble in four places around the tree for at least 2 hours each. Then I wait more than a week to do it again, making sure that the leaf mulch is at least 3 inches thick to hold that moisture in. Then it won't get too wet, and it will send the tap root down to where it can establish itself happily.
                  "Life flows on within you and without you"...George Harrison
                  Coastal California, USA, Mediterranean climate - no summer rain, a little frost mid-winter


                  • #10
                    I've heard you can't grow them from seed, because although you might get a nice looking tree it will never get proper fruit.
                    We have a lot of grafted trees, early and late bearing varieties, and many trees from seed. The grafted trees give us specific cultivars, and the seedling trees give us a random crap shoot. So far, all of the randome seedling avos have been exceptional. All of our trees from seed fruit now (seven years from planting to flowering), and produce abundantly.

                    We get 4.5 meters of rain a year here, and we can say that drainage is the key. Since most of our land is hilly, we have not had a problem, but have seen other farms on flatter land that have had problems.


                    • #11
                      Christopher, would you say your soil is closer to loam or clay or?
                      "Life flows on within you and without you"...George Harrison
                      Coastal California, USA, Mediterranean climate - no summer rain, a little frost mid-winter