Why We Cut the Trees Down: Avocado Trees Can Regrow!

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cut avocado branches

Cutting tall avocado trees to stumps

I remember the first time we cut down some of our avocado trees.    We cried.  All of us.  Mom, Dad and the four kids all shed tears.  Those trees had been planted by The Farmer during the 70’s,  we were married in 1982 and the children had been born in the next 7 years.    In 1993 we cut down some trees  so we could begin building our house on the site.    We had outgrown our mobile home, and had planned for years to build a family home.   We finally  cut some trees down and created a homesite.   As much as  we wanted that house, it was hard to see those trees cut down.

tall avocado tree

This tall tree grew back after stumping years ago

The next year we  cut lots more trees, but left  four foot stumps.  Acres of four foot stumps.   This was a completely different situation.  The trees had grown so tall over the years that the only area that would produce a crop was at the very top of the canopy.   We needed very tall ladders to reach the fruit,  and lots of water to maintain the tree.   Farmers all over our area were cutting down acres of trees to save water due to rationing.   The other reason for cutting trees was to let them regrow.  The shorter trees would grow foliage and bloom again,  producing many  more avocados if they were given the proper care.

short young trees and older tall trees

Tall trees behind the short younger trees that were planted 3 years ago

 

avocado stumps painted white

Stumped avocado grove, painted white to protect from sun damage

If you drive through Southern California and look at the hillsides where avocados are grown,  you will see acres of white stumps.  These are the avocados that have been cut down and painted to protect the trees from sun damage.   The stumps take less water while they regrow,  and will produce beautiful avocados again in about 3 years.  Sometimes we graft a different variety to the stump and when it grows back it produces that variety of avocado.  I’ll write more about that at a different time.

stump has grown back

This tree was stumped and grafted to a new variety

We have stumped several times over the years.   Taking acres of avocado trees  out of production for several years is a challenge financially,  but it also helps to save water and is considered a good practice in avocado farming.  Some farmers choose to thin their trees instead,  keeping them shorter but letting them grow rounder.  Some farmers cut their trees,  but leave the branches longer instead of cutting all the way to a four foot stump.

tall avocad branches are cut

These trees regrew once, and are being cut down again to re-grow

This week we are cutting down a block of  very tall trees.    It’s sad to see them fall,  and the sound they make as they break and crash is heartbreaking.   The beautiful shaded walkways under the trees are gone  now, but I can find other places on the ranch to walk where it is still shaded.   We have had visitors who have enjoyed the “magical forest”, as they called it.   Gaby from What’s Gaby Cooking.com and Matt of Mattbites.com were here last year and proposed having a blogger potluck under those trees.   Rachael of La Fuji Mama and I have had fun walking through the avocado forest and taking pictures there.  Now we’ll have more light for our photographs, and so will the avocado trees as they regrow.

sun comes through avocado trees

Sunlight helps the foliage to grow and allows the tree to blossom

Our lives are somewhat like an avocado tree, don’t you think?  We can grow and expand,  reaching for new heights…but every now and then we need to cut back,  take a breather and think about the future.  When we begin to grow again it may be in a different direction or with a change in productivity,  depending on how we are fed and nurtured through the change.

 

tall avocado trees

Tall avocado trees form a canopy and the fruit grows at the top

Even though tall avocado trees and beautiful, and create a magical forest for visitors,  the trees use more water, are more difficult to pick, and are not reaching their full production potential.  They have to reach for the sunlight.

healthy avocado trees

Sunlight reaches shorter trees and fruit is easier to pick

Farmers  bear the cost of cutting down the trees and caring for the regrowth even though they  will have no avocados to sell for several years.  This is just another part of the investment that goes into producing  delicious California avocados from California Avocados Direct.

Other posts about our avocado ranch that you may enjoy:

Picking Out the Best Avocados

Where Do Baby Avocados Come From?

End of March: Finding Flower in the Avocado Grove

 

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18 Comments

  1. Great post Mimi. Nature can teach us so much about life. By being hewn down, and starting over, comes some of our best growth!

  2. This is such a beautiful post, and I love the symbolism. It’s amazing how much insight we can gain when we examine nature and apply those concepts to our lives! I will miss the Magical Forest, but look forward to watching the magic of regrowth and the change in the groves!
    Fuji Mama recently posted..Brown Rice Yaki Onigiri with Bacon and AvocadoMy Profile

  3. Thanks for the great post. We have recently bought an avocado grove and I was really enjoying walking inside the grove until last weekend hearing my husband talking about stumping all the 500 trees. I was quite sad about his decision until I read your post. You made a lot of sense and I feel much better now. Hopefully they will come back to life less than three years! Thanks again for sharing your information.

    • I’m glad you found the post so you can feel better! The trees that we stumped last August are already filling out and becoming green. I hope all goes well with your project! Keep me posted. ~Mimi

  4. Great post! Loved the pictures of the trees. We are looking at a 5 acre grove that is certainly mature and will need stumping soon. Would you advise doing the stumping over a period of time or all at once? Like dividing into three sections and doing one section each year? According to the realtor the grove produced $10,000.00 after expenses last year. I’ll trying to educate myself and I tend to trust someone who isn’t making money off me so any advise will be appreciated.

    • There are many factors to consider when stumping a grove. Without more information, I couldn’t answer your questions. Best to consult a professional grove manager. Get several opinions.

  5. Thank you so much for this. I’ve had a tree since college (1994) and it’s looked so stringy the last year or so. It’s potted and I’m going right now to saw it way back.

  6. This makes me feel much better! I bought a cold hardy avocado tree that was shipped to me recently. Unfortunately, a lot of the tree didn’t make it through due to the shock (I’m guessing). The top 2/3 of the tree is totally dead, all leaves dead, branches dead and trunk appears to be dead. However, the bottom 4 inches or so of the trunk are definitely still green and new shoots are coming out. So if I cut off the top dead part my tree should do fine from the remaining good green part right?! Please tell me this is so, I was so looking forward to avocados!

    • Hi Carrie! Thanks for stopping by my blog! If you cut off the dead branches and take good care of the tree, it should come back just fine. It may take a couple of years for the tree to begin to produce again.

  7. Mimi, I re-grew an avocado seed (2) and thinking about setting them outside, but didn’t know about the tempature…..it has been such a weird spring…2 nights ago it dropped down to 27 degrees we live in Northern part of Alabama….What do you think? This is the first time doing….lol..I would appreciate any advice.

    • Avocado trees grown from a seed make lovely house plants. I’m doubtful that they could survive outside. When the temperatures drop below 32 here, the trees freeze. Good luck!

  8. I have one avocado tree in my small back yard. It is so huge it scares me. The avocados are the best anyone has ever eaten. However, I’m wondering if I could cut it back like you say to four feet and start a new kind of avocado tree. One that doesn’t shade the garden so much and which I can keep trimmed to a reasonable size. How likely is it, if I trim it way back, that it will die?

    • I can’t say for sure what will happen to your tree. When we cut down our tall trees and had them grafted to another variety, most of them grew but some did not. Do you know what variety tree you have?

  9. I’ve read a couple of hints that say we need to leave the stems on when harvesting avocados, and also to use something to cut with. Why not snap them off the stems by hand? I’d like an explanation if there is one.

    • I asked my husband “The Farmer” your question. He says there is a case to be made for either way. You can pick the avocados by snapping off the stems rather than cutting. After the avocado is picked, we think it is best to cut the stem flush with the fruit, which leaves the “button” on the end of the avocado. When the button is gone, sometimes that end of the avocado ripens sooner than the rest of the fruit. Insects can get to the inside of the fruit through that opening too. Don’t get me wrong: we have avocados all the time that are missing “the button”…but best case is to leave the button on the end of the avocado. How do you feel about it?

  10. Hi Mimi, thank you so much for your blog! I wanted to ask you for an opinion – we’re just going through a hurricane Norbert here in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, which broke my 3 year old avocado tree in half. It was so beautiful and I’m quite heartbroken, because we grew it ourselves and it was very special to us. I am wondering if you think it can still be saved – the top part with leaves is completely cut off its trunk – do you think we can grow some roots and replant it? Should I keep that top in the water or out? And the other question is for the trunk, which is still quite firm in the ground – do you think I should leave ut in the ground and take care of it normally, and it might start growing new branches again? Should I cut a bit of the broken part on top of the trunk, or should I just let it be?
    I’m sorry for all the questions, and we appreciate your help so much. Good luck with your beautiful avocado trees!
    Romana
    Romana recently posted..Michael Wolf: Paris Roof TopsMy Profile

    • Hi Romana,

      It would be helpful to have a photo or two…to see how large the tree is, etc. Usually an avocado tree with mature roots will grow again…as long as it is watered. The top part that is separated from the roots will not grow new roots.

      We have a tree that split recently…it happens, even without the hurricane! The top part will be lost…it will die…but we’ll clean up the trunk of the tree a bit and it will begin to grow back…it takes 2-3 years to grow back.

      We cut our trees down to four foot stumps when they get too tall…and then they regrow because of the mature root system.

      I hope this helps. You can send a photo if you like and I’ll show it to my husband…see what he says.

      So sorry for your loss!

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