- Author: Chris M. Webb
Today Ventura County Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor, Ben Faber shares some of his knowledge of avocados with us.
Avocado leaves appear wilted or flaccid during periods of low temperature. This is a natural protective response to freezing temperatures and does not mean the leaves have been frozen. Leaves will be firm and brittle and often curled when frozen. Leaves become flaccid after thawing, and if the injury is not too great, they gradually regain turgor and recover, leaving however, dark flecks on the leaves. Seriously frozen leaves collapse, dry out, and remain on the tree. Foliage form recent flushes are most susceptible to this damage.
If twigs or wood have been seriously damaged, the frozen leaves may remain on the tree for several weeks. If the twigs and wood have not been damaged severely, the leaves are rapidly shed. Trees losing their leaves rapidly is often a good sign and is not, as many growers believe a sign of extensive damage.
Cold damage to the twigs appears as water soaking or discoloration. In older branches and trunks it appears as splitting or loosening of bark where the cambium has been killed. Bark may curl and dry with many small cracks. Dead patches of bark may occur in various locations on limbs and trunk.
Sensitivity to frost is dependent upon many variables. For avocados, Hass is about as cold tolerant as lemons, while Bacon is more cold tolerant. Healthy trees are more tolerant than stressed ones. The rootstock also imparts sensitivity to the scion.
Injury to the foliage and to young trees may be immediately recognizable but the true extent of the damage to larger branches, trunks, and rootstocks may not appear for up to four months following the freeze. No attempt should be made to prune or even assess damage from the frost until spring when new growth appears.