It's that time of year when grower's think about pruning their avocado trees. What scars many growers is the regrowth that occurs. If the cut is to the middle of a branch, there is all kinds of wild growth that results. The best cuts are back to a crotch or a subtending branch. Then there is little regrowth. Sometimes those cuts cannot be made and a mid-branch cut needs to be made.
Tre-Hold, naphthalene acetic acid was registered on avocado several years ago to retard that regrowth. The growth hormone is mixed with white latex paint so it is possible to see where it has been applied. We recommended that the paint be hand applied to a distance two times the width of the cut. So if the cut is 2 inches in diameter, paint back 4 inches around the base of the cut. It works.
Many growers don't use the material, but recently I saw a neatly pruned grove that has been using NAA for a number of years and in order to avoid any confusion about how much paint to put on, they just apply a 2 inch width of paint to all the cuts. This is easier for the pruners and speeds up the process. Try it, you may like it. It certainly saves time in maintenance over the long haul after pruning.
At a recent meeting in Modesto covering drought and how it is being dealt with around the world, there was an interesting presentation by some Israeli researchers. They looked at the use of recycled water from sewage treatment plants and the use of desalinated water from the Mediterranean. The recycled water had much of the original mineral nutrients, but had been treated for microorganisms. They wanted to know how much of the nutrients could be accounted in the fertilizer balance applied to apple, pear and nectarine orchards. Their conclusion that after one year, there was a significant contribution and that leaf analysis had not changed, not yields after applying the effluent. This was only for one year, but I could imagine that after many years there would be a significant impact.
They also looked at desal water, and found that the process removed most minerals except for boron. They actually found that plants irrigated with this water ended up with calcium and magnesium deficiencies and more boron toxicity. The reverse osmosis membranes used in this case were not very effective at removing boron. In the case of many waters north of Los Angeles there are often high levels of boron in the water, and using RO water might accentuate the problem.
RO water also is usually too pure and the lack of salt causes soil to deflocculate - lose structure. Yes, you need some salt to have a healthy soil.
Read more about this trial at:
Bitter Pit in Apple caused by low Calcium
- Author: CA Dept Food
Two additional trees in San Gabriel have tested positive for Huanglongbing. The two trees, an orange and a kumquat, are on separate properties but are both within the core area in San Gabriel where 10 diseased trees were confirmed last summer. Given the close proximity, there will not be a quarantine expansion.
One of the HLB-positive trees has already been removed and California Department of Food and Agriculture officials are in the process of contacting the other homeowner to schedule tree removal. Agriculture officials are working quickly in the area.
Citrus trees in San Gabriel had already been treated for the Asian citrus psyllid within the last few weeks as part of CDFA's routine HLB response. Asian citrus psyllid populations are closely monitored in areas where HLB has been detected and treatments occur if there is a noted increase in population size. Since trees have been recently protected, no additional treatments will take place at this time. Instead, CDFA will focus on sampling extensively in the area. Much of the area has already been sampled and CDFA's lab has identified all samples from San Gabriel as high priority.
The Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program is working with the Los Angeles County Agricultural Commissioner's office and CDFA to develop a multi-lingual informational flier to notify residents of the significance of these finds and potential implications to other citrus trees in the area. CDFA staff will distribute this information as they go door-to-door sampling and surveying.
More information will be shared as it is available. In the meantime, the citrus industry is encouraged to keep a critical eye on all plant material moving into or out of your groves. Remove all leaves and stems, shake out picking bags, inspect harvesting equipment and educate fieldworkers. Additionally, get on board with area-wide treatments. Collectively, as a team, we can all save our citrus trees.
Residents in the area who think they may have seen ACP or symptoms of HLB on their trees are urged to call CDFA's Pest Hotline at 1-800-491-1899 or your local agricultural commissioner's office.
The calls are coming in and have been for the last several months. The trees are tired, worn out and look horrible. What's the problem? Well four years of drought, accumulated salts in the root zone and irrigation practices that aren't removing the salts from the root zone. It sets up a situation of tip burn, but much more extensive than tip burn is the water stress that results from salt accumulation. Salts compete with roots for water and they act to pull water away from the roots. It is as if less water is being applied. The water stress sets up the trees for a fungal infection called variously leaf blight, stem blight and in young trees, death. We used to call this Dothiorella blight, but since the work of Akif Eskalen at UC Riverside, it turns out it is one of many fungi that cause this problem, most of them Botryosphaerias.
The leaves show what would appear to be salt burn damage which increasingly causes leaf drop. In fact, there's often a pile of leaves under the canopy unless the wind has blown them away. The difference between this and salt burn is that there is not a regular pattern to it. It can start on the margins, or in the middle of the leaf, or wherever it darn well pleases. Whereas salt/tip burn always starts at the leaf tip and progressively moves back onto the main part of the leaf. Leaf blight (I don't like to use bigger words than that – Botryosphaeria. Try spelling it on the phone), on the other hand doesn't follow this regular pattern. It's a random pattern.
This a decomposing fungus. Wherever there is organic matter – leaves, twigs, branches, fruit, whatever is dead on the ground – there is a decomposing fungus. When the fungus finds a stressed plant, it invades the most susceptible part of the plant, usually the leaf. It starts growing through the tissue and down the leaf petiole. It then starts growing down the dead part of the plant. Most of a tree is dead. All that stuff under the bark and cambium is dead tissue, although it still carries water. In mature trees, there is a capacity to close off the decay and limit it. In young trees (younger than two or so), the capacity is lacking and the fungus can keep on growing down to the union and kill the tree.
As can be imagined, this fungus does not discriminate amongst the type of plants it feeds on. It will go to water-stressed, citrus, roses, apples, etc. It goes to every woody perennial that I am aware of. I've seen it on redwoods and eucalyptus. It especially goes after shallow-rooted species like avocado which are the most prone to water-stress. Like when a Santa Ana blows in and the irrigation schedule is slow to respond. Like when there is a heavy load of fruit. Fruit have stomata and the more environmental stress the more water they lose and pull on water from the tree.
Now imagine a tree loaded with fruit, in the later summer, with a Santa Ana and salt stress. Boom! Fruit drops and leaf blight shows up. And the damage doesn't go away, until it so severe that the leaf drops and new leaves come on in the spring.
Hopefully these rains will wash the salts from the root systems and refill the profile with high quality water. We are extremely reliant on winter rain to cover up the effects of the damage that irrigation water does to our soil and plants. And rain is the answer, as long as it's not too much.
Notice the even pattern of necrosis with tip burn
And the random pattern with leaf blight.
These official UC-approved guidelines for pest monitoring techniques, pesticide use, and nonpesticide alternatives for agricultural crops are essential tools for anyone making pest management decisions in the field. This 124-page guideline covers citrus fruit.
A hard copy version of these guidelines can be purchased as Publication 3441P.
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