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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75 Comments

  1. Hello there .
    Nice Blog. I have a question please. I am faced with the heartbreak of having to behead a beloved Avocado tree of maybe 12 years age ? Never fruited even once but is growing at a 45 degree angle to the ground …. Its a thin tree with a heavy head and I fear it will break and die. Instead I would rather cut to maybe 4 – 5 ft from the ground and take my chances …. my concern is the exposed bark … how do I protect it from pests and fungus . I live in a tropical country and we are at the start of the rainy season . What we normally do when we cut any tree bark or if it cracks in a storm and part of the bark is left, we clean saw it and then apply a dollop of mud and just leave it as it is . Regular watering and keeping things clean results in spouting of fresh foliage soon and one ends up with a short but green tree again…. but Avocado is not a native tree and I am not sure how one propagates again once such drastic shock to the tree is administered . Any guidance would be most welcome . Many thanks.

    • Hi Nadir, It’s hard to cut down a tree, but with avocado trees it is necessary sometimes. We will be stumping some trees later this year. When we do it, we paint the trunk and bark with white paint to protect from sunburn. Avocado trees love water, as long as therre is good drainage. Rains should help the tree begin to regrow. I should think that covering your tree trunk with mud would be a good idea. Once the tree begins to regrow, choose the strongest of the new branches to keep, and prune away the ones that are growing in the wrong direction. Good luck with your tree and with the rain! (we love rain!)

  2. Hi Mimi
    So nice to hear from you so soon . Many thanks . Will keep you updated with this experiment . I love rain too – my favourite season of the year in my part of the world .

  3. Hello Mimi,

    I live in SWFL, I moved in 5 years ago and have a beautiful avocado tree in my yard, it was nearly dead when we moved in and now it’s healthy. My problem is, it’s never produced fruit. It’s taller than the house now, but still manageable, I just trimmed it up so we can walk under while mowing, so there is no current undergrowth. Could stumping give my tree another chance to fruit? I’ve thought about removing and replacing the tree, but after reading this, I might want to give her another go. I would hate to cut it down, but I really want avocados!

    Thanks,
    Jamie

    • It’s hard to know whether stumping would help. Sometimes people grow a tree from an avocado pit and plant it — those trees often do not bear fruit. The trees that you buy in a nursery have been grafted – the root stock tree is grown first, then an avocado fruit variety is grafted to it. If you really want fruit you might want to start over with a new tree, since this tree has never produced fruit.

  4. Hello Mimi,

    Love your blog and website. I have a couple of questions please. I have planted several avocados from pits. One is about 20 feet tall with a trunk around 6 inches in diameter. It is about 8 years old and has never given fruit. Is there anything that can be done now to graft it, even if it is stumped or cut back? The other ones are smaller and still within reach of being grafted. My second question is how/where can I get/purchase a branch of haas avocado to graft onto them, or are these not readily available. Thank you

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