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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100 Comments

  1. Hi there thank you for your opinion was just thinking that if you cut the trees to about 6 meters there is alot of main branches exposed to sunlight so if they are not painted for protection maybe they will get sick easier and die anyway .happy you loved your visit to n.z

  2. Thanks for sharing, I have a young avocado tree that grew out extremely diagonal. In order to correct it, I was wondering if it would be wise to just cut it down to the stump in hopes of it regrowing? I would love to give our tree a second chance at life so if there’s any advice you could share with me, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks.

    • If you don’t like the tree the way it is, there’s no harm in stumping it and watching it re-grow. It will do almost nothing for a year. Then it takes another two years (or more) to produce again. You can choose the limbs to keep, and prune the others as it grows. I’m curious about why the tree grew out that way – did the earth settle under the roots and make the whole tree off center? Can you just prune a few limbs and make the tree look better? Is the tree in the shade, and growing toward the sun?

      mimi

  3. There’s no way to just prune it. From about 2 feet from the bottom it decided to grow completely diagonal. I think there’s a few factors it grew that way. Our backyard is full sun but shortly after we planted it we had a deck added on to the house that blocked some of its sun. We also didn’t have a good irrigation system until the last year or so.

  4. Unfortunately the wind just blew over my Reed avocado tree and the trunk split! My action plan is to cut the top half of the tree off and try to save the bottom half since the trunk is still partially attached and there is a lot of fruit. Then train a new trunk and remove the broken trunk next year. Hoping this will work

    • Kendall Willis, just make sure you don’t cut the tree off below the graft or else you’ll get a root stock tree. The same thing happened to my my Hass tree a few years ago. The wind snapped the tree off just above the graft junction. I cut the tree off straight and and used twisted wire to keep the split trunk together and then put tar on the cut section. It grew back so fast it was incredible. Now it’s as tall as my house and loaded with fruit and bigger than it was before. Sorry Mimi that I commented on this but I just had to share my experience. Mimi is the expert.

      • Thank you Edwin for the encouragement. It was depressing to see the tree laying on its side loaded with fruit. These trees can get top heavy. It snapped off the supporting pole next to it. There is two feet of scion remaining below the break. I will prune back top growth yearly to get a strong trunk in the future.

        • Kendall, I know the feeling. My tree was laying on the ground also from a windy day and it was loaded with fruit, so sad. In two years it was back to it’s original height and with lots of fruit on it. This time I secured it to the fence (behind it) in 2 places. We had extremely strong winds a few months ago and had no problems. Good luck with your tree.

  5. Your article is quite helpful! I have so many questions, and you have answered many. Thank you! Such a nice and superb article, we have been looking for this information about why we cut the trees down avocado trees can regrow . Indeed a great post about it!!
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  6. Hello,

    Just moved to a new home that has a variety of bacon and hass avocados. They are about 30 years old and stumped sometime in the last 5 years.

    A lot of the stumped trees are not preforming well and was advised to removed the trees and replants. I plant on keeping about 40% of the trees and remove and replace the 60%.

    Was Looking for some feedback on this. Any recommendations?

    • Hi Jon,
      You are on the right track. We stumped and re-grew trees for years, but now we prefer to remove the old trees and plant new ones. Newer root stocks can handle the salt that is in our water much better than older root stocks. There are new varieties as well, and newer varieties of Hass too.

      We order our trees about 2 years in advance from Brokaw Nursery (in quantity).

      Hope this helps.
      Mimi

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