West Pak Avocados in Bloom

Early Spring 2020 Field Report

Just in from the field, West Pak Field Managers Mike Harberson and Andrew Gabryszak kick off the 2020 California season with their first cultural report of the year. Here’s what you need to know to ensure an optimal crop this year and the long-term health of your orchard.

Chill Factor

According to Northern Field Manager Mike Harberson, although the weather is warming, the cold can still be a factor this time of the year. “It’s important to continue to monitor cold weather and maintain wind machines as temperatures can still drop in February.” 

Fertilize & Phos

Heading into spring and the buds start coming out, Southern Field Manager Andrew Gabryszak believes that your thoughts should be on fertilizing. “Keep an eye on the soil temperatures, and you will know when to fertilize. When looking at the results from your fall leaf and soil analysis, make sure to follow the recommendations of your consultant,” he remarks. 

It’s also time to start thinking about the spring application of phosphorous. Whether through the water, trunk injection, or aerial, however, you choose to make your applications, our field pros say that this is the time to start planning with completion by mid to late March.  

Plant & Snip

As we head into March, Harberson points out that growers can begin to develop and plant trees in their orchards. However, with a full release on all sizes and the market receiving California fruit well, this is also the time for pruning and thinning. 

Single branch pruning is a long-term way to bring the height of your grove down while keeping the grove producing. Low stumping is another way to get rid of the canopied trees, but that takes three to four years to return to production. Scaffolding or high pruning will only take you out of production for two years, but you will return to the canopied trees faster without a strong pruning program. 

The only bad way to prune a tree is not to prune at all!

What’s Bugging You?

As the bloom starts to appear and the new flush comes out, Gabryszak says to remember to be on the lookout for Scirtothrips Persea or Thrips. “Make sure your Pest Control Advisor (PCA) is on hand with boots on the ground, checking for the pest. Also, there is a new bug in town called the Avocado Lace Bug. It attacks the adult leaves similarly to Persea Mite but will target the center of the leaves, making a scorch mark much like tip burn,” he mentions.

“In addition to the pests, your thoughts should be on bees,” adds Harberson. “Focus on getting your bees in place as flowers begin to form heading into spring.”