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


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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  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!
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    • 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!

  11. Hi Mimi,

    I have an avocado tree that was given to me & I planted it. Somewhere along the line the tree sprouted another TRUNK off of the main trunk. THIS one is like 10 feet tall & I have it supported, however, I’ve been wondering if I can just cut this “rogue” trunk off.

    Will the balance of the tree survive? That part is only like 3-4 feet tall.

    Thank you so much

  12. hi Mimi, thank you so much for your post, we have a big Avocado tree at our place, last Monday when I got home I found the tree been cut down, I was pulling my hair cause I didn’t think that tree will re-grow, my mom hired someone to cut it down completely like your first picture, I am just worried as here in South Africa we will have winter soon, what can we do to protect it from this coming winter and do you think it will re-grow * still in tears*

    thank you again for this post, it is giving me hope that I maybe see leaves again.

    • I’m so sorry about your tree. It will need a little water. Since the leaves and branches are no longer there, the roots can use less water than before. If you are able to water the tree regularly, it will regrow. The amount of water that the tree needs is related to the amount of growth above the ground. We cut our trees as a way to deal with drought. If we must, we cut entire blocks of trees and hope that by the time they begin to regrow we will have more water available. Sadly, many farmers have already cut back on water and now they are cutting our water even more. Farmers are forced to stump their trees. If you are able to care for your tree, it should re-grow because the root system is mature. Do you have a photo of your tree to share?

      • I do have a picture, but I cant attach it here, thank you for your response.

        you can send me your email, maybe I can send you a picture.

        thank you again.

  13. Hi Mimi, this post gives me some hope. I grew an avocado tree from a grocery pit and it’s been with us indoor over 10 years. Recently the tree is not doing well. I took some pictures and posted them here with some background information. http://www.houzz.com/activities/user/74avocados could you please take a look and tell me what you think?

    You seem so experienced with avocado tree and I really would like to hear your opinions.

    I’ve been with the tree over ten years and I’m pretty attached to me. Shame on me for letting the tree go this sick. I am hoping I can still save the tree.

    • Where are you located? Are you watering the tree? If you live in So California the water could be higher in salts than you know. Or perhaps you need to leach the salts from the soil that have built up over time by giving it a heavy watering and letting the water drain. Avocados need good drainage. Do you ever fertilize?

      • Hi Mimi, I’m so glad that you responded. I live in upstate NY.

        I suspected root rot, so a few weeks ago, I dug up the root, removed all the dead roots (dead it was – the whole pot used to be full of roots but now it has only half). Let it air dry for a couple of days, and then repotted it in a new pot with new potting soil. The pot has holes on the bottom so I think it has good drainage. I also put pebbles on the bottom of the pot so that roots won’t be sitting in water, if that ever happens (it won’t – the pot is lifted with rocks also from the bottom). I wish I had given heavy watering you suggested before I repotted. I didn’t know. But I think I can still do it, in the pot. Since repotting, I have been very conservative about the amount of water I give. I only sprinkle a little when the top soil started to dry.

  14. Hi Mimi,

    Your excellent article is so close to what I’m looking for! I’m very grateful but not sure if you can help?

    I have a very tall Macadamia tree in my side garden. It’s about 30 foot tall. The bottom branches start at about 10 foot and I can’t possibly reach the nuts and the pests get at them before I can at the height of the tree.

    I know your post is about Avacado but I wonder if there’s a similarity? I want to bring it right back to a stump and then train it back to a wider tree with less height. Are you aware of Macadamias and “stumping” them?

    Thanks so much for your time.


    • Rob, I’m so sorry I know absolutely nothing about macadamia nut trees! I suggest you call your local nursery. Not all trees will grow back when cut down like avocados can.

  15. OK . . . “I” finally got fed up with my tree. It had been given to me by the landscaper servicing the duplex where I live. His staff had totally obliterated MINE that I had babied from a SEED.

    Well this tree decided to branch OFF & I had to prop it up to keep it from totally breaking & splitting the main trunk.

    About 2 weeks ago I got fed up with the way it looked & completely sawed off everything, except for about 3-4 feet of the MAIN trunk. BAM . . . DONE !

    Well, last nite I happened to glance over at it & noticed GREEN along the top of the stump.

    YA’LL . . . this thing has started growing all sorts of little sprouts around the entire top of that stump.

    NOW . . . I’m rather at a quandary as to what I do now?

    Should I just let it go & then take off the less sturdy little branches?

    Or just let it continue to grow?

  16. We have an avocado tree that is very old. It shed all it’s leaves and grew all
    new ones, but now they are looking limp. it had lots of small fruit last season,
    and there are more small ones now. there are lots of dead branches at the
    top. Should we have a tree person stump this old (1970) tree, to help it
    or would that kill it???

    • You can prune all the dead branches off and leave the ones with fruit. If you can pay for water and fertilizer throughout the coming year, you’ll have avocados to enjoy next year. If the tree is so large that it requires too much water, stump it. When the tree begins to grow small shoots of new growth, water it and wait for 2-3 years. If you take good care of it the tree should come back (but you must invest in the water for sure!). If the tree is diseased it would be better to just take it out and plant a new tree. Hope this helps.

  17. Hi – I am so glad I found this site. I love avocadoes and have grown two from pits as indoor plants (I live in UP Michigan). One branched off double at 3′ and is OK, growing lots of little leaves. The other one is too tall, though I have trimmed it many times; now it is branching off at the top but is still too tall for the window. If I follow your advice and cut it off at 4′, that will be where the leaves now start. I plan on repotting, too, in a larger pot. Can I be so confident that I won’t be killing my tall tree? Or should I saw it down shorter than 4′ being that it is inside? Do you recommend regular fertilizer like what is sold at Wal-mart? I’ve never fertilized. I do have plenty of water (filtered from a jug to get rid of chlorine). Any response will be greatly appreciated. Best regards, Bonnie

    • Avocado trees can be really nice house plants. A friend of mine in Vermont used to have a really tall avocado plant in his antique shop. Of course, they will never have fruit. Use “triple 15” fertilizer (15-15-15), which should be available at Walmart. Home Depot sells it. Sometimes it’s really difficult to kill a tree, even when we cut them down at the ground. As long as the tree has strong roots, plenty of water, and nutrients…and stays disease free, it will grow. Avocado trees need sandy soil with good drainage, which is why they are planted on slopes here in California. Hope this helps!

    • Hi there

      I just wanted to let you know that these little trees seem to be THE hardiest yes I have ever seen.

      Mine actually went so awry, that one day I got fed up & cut it ALL the way down to only about 3′. It was just literally a STICK sticking out of the ground. I was sure it would finally die & I wouldn’t have to deal with it’s awkward growing anymore!

      GIRL . . . That thing just keeps coming back. And now, when a branch grows the wrong way, I just snap it off, & on we go.

      So don’t worry . . . Apparently you CANNOT hurt these trees.

  18. I really like how you compared our lives to an avocado tree. My son has been upset about the idea of getting our trees trimmed. Maybe I’ll have to use this analogy to see if that makes him feel any better after the trimming service comes.

  19. Hello Mimi,

    My girlfriend and I started a Florida avocado from the seed about 2 months ago in a pot inside. It was doing amazing already 2 feet tall and started to branch at the top with some leaves forming. Now the bad news… My girlfriend brought it outside with her to get it some extra sunlight while she worked the garden. She left it for a few minutes to do some laundry and came back to find a squirrel had chewed all the way through the trunk about 1 inch above the seed. Is it possible it will regrow, most of the ones you talk about regrowing are much larger, and this one is so young and vulnerable?

    Thank you for having so much avocado knowledge.


    • You can wait and see if it regrows. Must have been a hungry squirrel. Our squirrels are cute but cause lots of erosion with their tunnels.

      • It’s been a very easy winter for them here in Ma, so they think they have the run of the place. Thanks again.

  20. This was a very special post. I think you are right, this is a beautiful metaphor for life. Some days we are reaching for the stars, and other times are seasons where we need to be pruned back so we can grow back stronger than before. Thank you so much for sharing.

  21. After stumping, whitewashing stump ends, and clearing undergrowth, what should I do to the avocado tree to promote regrowth?
    Fertilize soil? With what? How and how often?
    Water tree stump? How much and how often?

  22. Hi Mimi, I have a old Reed avocado tree in my backyard in San Francisco. This year, it suffered a major Persea Mite attack and most of its leaves have fallen off and it looks like it will be completely defoliated. I have since treated it with mite cite. Should I cut back/prune the tree? Will the tree revive better if I prune it back, just like how you stump your grove due to lack of water.

    • Hi Elaine,
      I don’t know what to tell you — usually I ask my husband or son these farming questions. How tall is the tree now? You can prune it back for almost any reason you wish — even if it is just taller than you wish it to be. Since the root system is well developed, it should regenerate if it is given the proper care.

      • The tree is about 35 feet tall. I was told by a tree specialist that it might not survive as evergreen trees can’t tolerate total defoliation. But from what I’ve read on your website of how you stump your groves, the tree in fact can regenerate after its been completely defoliated. I am only concerned with the survival of the tree and what actions I can take to help it. Thank you for your very informative website, I could not figure out what variety was my tree until I came to your site.

  23. Awesome post. Sometimes you do have to cut down a tree to its stump to let it grow back bigger and better! We used to do it with fig trees in our yard. Thanks for sharing!

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  25. Hi,
    Do you still monitor this site? I have a question about an avocado tree we cut down, and wondered if you are still answering such questions?



      • Mimi, sorry for the delay. Forgot I posted this. The background: We live in a typical suburban Southern California house with small yard. About a year ago we were forced to have removed the rightmost one of our 2 beautiful and bearing 30+ year old avocado trees (a Hass) because the wind leaned it over too far. We had the stump ground up and also “brutally” trimmed the leftmost tree (a Bacon). A month or two later we planted a new Hass about 2 feet to the right of the old Hass site. Not long after, about 3 sprouts came up just about at the old site. We let them grow. Now, a year later, the sprouts are just as tall as the new Hass (about 8 feet) and even healthier looking. The Bacon tree has filled in very well, and starting to open blossoms. SO ARE THE SPROUTS! Meantime the new Hass is way behind but may blossom also. The question: Do you have any idea which tree the sprouts came from. They grew way too fast and big to be from some random seed, so must be from a large root? The Bacon came back so vigorously, that maybe it also grew sprouts from a root because it was so vigorously trimmed? And the blooms are in sync with the Bacon. Since we removed the stump and major roots of the Hass, I don’t see how it could be the Hass. But it is nearly at the same spot! At the moment, we plan to turn the “volunteer” into an avocado “bush”, keeping it around 6-7 feet tall while letting the new “proper” Hass grow. (Again, they are only about 2 feet apart) Sorry this was so long. Any thoughts? Thanks.

        • Hi George,
          It sure sounds like the old Hass tree still had roots, doesn’t it? On the other hand, if the sprouts are blossoming with the Bacon, it could be just part of the Bacon tree. Guess you’ll need to wait and see if it sets any fruit!

          It is actually preferable to keep avocado trees shorter: 8-12 feet tall, so the fruit production will stay lower. Less water, and easier to pick than growing a 30-50 ft tree and watering all those long trunks!

          It should be fun for you to keep watching, guessing, and hopefully find out from the fruit!

          • Thanks so much for your quick reply. Lately, I am thinking that the Bacon’s roots were disturbed or even cut by our removal of the Hass, and that caused it to sprout some shoots anew. Who knows if the root stock will yield the same fruit as the original grafted tree in either case. When and if we have a resolution (based on yielded fruit) I will try to post the results. It could take another year, though. Meantime, thanks for being a resource for amateur avocado growers everywhere!

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  28. Hi everyone!
    I need help with an indoor avocado tree grown from a pit.
    I live in Sweden and the tree is 16 years old. It belongs to the lady from whom we rented an apartment. She asked us to water her plants and said they didnt need too much water so i waterd them whenever i could. But along came winter and the leaves where falling and I assumed it was from winter weather since i had no experience with avocado trees ( I didnt even know it was an avocado tree).
    Now she says we haven’t been taking care of her plants and she doubts the tree will survive. The branches are dead but th trunk is still green . I have been watering it more now . Is there hope for the tree ? What should be done to save it ? The guilt is killing me 🙁

    • The tree should come back with some new growth if you water it. If there are dead limbs (really dry and no green at all) you can prune them. As long as the roots are still alive, you should be able to revive the tree. It has been severely stressed, so be patient.

    • I have to tell you, I got so fed up with one of my avocado trees that I cut it down to a nub, hoping I had finally killed it

      I don’t think it’s possible to actually kill an avocado tree

      I do however feel like the limbs that have supposedly died be pruned off . . . continue with the watering and it should come back better than ever

  29. Hi Mimi!
    I’m glad to notice you keep responding to this old post. Thanks for your great advice and inspiration!
    I have a 30 years old avocado tree that grew from seed in my orchard, it’s the only avocado plant in the neighborhood. I don’t know what variety. It has a massive trunk 25 inches tick wich splits in two 10 inches branches at a hight of 8ft. The canopy is about 20 ft tall overall.
    It yelds fuits since 10 years but they are scarce and only the size of of a finger with no pit (cocktail avocados).

    Do you think this is due to the variety or to the lack of the proper type of avocados to act as pollinators in the vicinity?
    Do you think introducing the right type of polinators might allow fruits to grow to their full size? Or do I need to graft another variety?

    • If your tree grew from a seed, it is probably grown from root stock and may not produce good fruit. The best thing to do might be to have it grafted, which means you would “stump” the tree and get a grafter to come. You could then decide which variety you want.

  30. Hello Mimi, I was really bummed out when the high winds blew down my Hass avocado tree about 1 1/2 months ago. It was about a 10 year old tree and about 15 feet tall and now is a stump about 1 foot tall. It was loaded with avocados at the time and I’m really hoping it grows back. Do you know how long it takes for the stump to start sprouting after an event like this? How often should I water it, or should I water it at all?

    • So sorry that the wind ruined your tree! If your stump is only 1 ft tall, you probably lost the bud union. This means that your tree will grow back as the root stock, not as a Hass avocado tree. You might want to consider planting a new tree. You can water the stump, watch it grow, but you might be wasting your water and time if the tree is no longer able to produce Hass avocados. You could try to graft it to Hass again, but it might not take. Best option: new tree.

  31. Thanks for the advice Mimi. I believe I see the graft junction about 4 inches from the ground, so if it sprouts above this junction I guess it means I’ll have Hass avocados again. If not maybe I can have the stump grafted with some Hass bud wood. I’ve tried looking for a grafter before but have no idea where to find one. I’ve tried grafting avocado trees myself before but with no luck at all. If none of this works I guess I can plant a new tree but I’ve waited so many years for this tree to grow and would hate to have to wait out those years again with a new tree.

  32. Hi Mimi, I really hope you can reply to my message. I have about a 30 year old avocado tree that I stumped to 6 feet tall. I did this because it was 25 feet tall and had lots of pests. I stumped it a month ago, but there is no new growth. I’m scared that it’s dead. I’ve only been drenching it with water once a week. Is this enough water? Am I watering it too much? We had a very wet winter here in Monterey, CA. So I thought that watering it once a week would be sufficient. How long will the stump take to sprout? The top of the stump is dry. I thought it would be wet with sap. Is it normal for it to be dry?

    • Sorry it took me so long to reply. Usually avocado tress that are stumped and then given some water will start to grow right away. If your tree has no new grown by now, I would go get a new tree and plant it. The newer trees are grown on better root stock than the older trees.

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