Ben Faber and Brad Hanson
This is not good. You find an avocado tree with sun blotch or it is time to thin the orchard and you remove the offending tree. You know that if you don't remove the sucker, you'll end up with some rootstock growth that just gets in the way of the other trees. Avocado suckers can look like a valued tree until it's time for harvest several years later, and then you are likely to find that it's not the variety that you thought it was. Homeowners often find this problem several years after a freeze and the lemon tree that regrew from the freeze damage turns out to be the rootstock variety and produces some gnarly, seedy, juiceless fruit. Even without a frost, sometimes rootstocks which are selected for their vigor, can be more vigorous than the scion variety and will overgrow it. You then end up with whatever the rootstock fruit turns out to be.
In some situations, it is legal and common to use a “cut stump” treatment to kill stumps and prevent resprouting. In these cases, glyphosate or triclopyr is sprayed, drizzled, or painted onto a freshly cut stump. Relatively high concentrations of the herbicide are applied to the cambium, which is the living tissue just under the bark. Cut stump treatments work well in many situations, including citrus orchards. This type of cut and spray treatment is commonly done to remove undesirable plants, like arundo and weedy tree species. However, in some trees, like avocado and many forest species, there can be root grafting, which are tree-to-tree root connections.
Due to root grafting in a mature avocado orchard, it really can be one giant root system, one tree connected to all the other trees. And if a systemic herbicide is injected in one tree, the surrounding trees can be affected – they might get enough herbicide through the root graft to be injured or even killed along with the target tree. This technique has been used in Florida to remove Laurel Wilt Disease infected avocado trees which can rapidly infect surrounding trees with the killer fungus. This is a helpful technique, because it removes any doubt that all infected trees have been killed to prevent the spread to healthy trees in the orchard.
In a healthy orchard in California, this is not a really good way to remove avocado stump sprouts. Every year reports come in of glyphosate killing good trees that surround a removed tree. The photo below is a recent case where the stump (circled in blue) was scored and painted with glyphosate. Within two weeks the surrounding tree were also killed. The systemic material was translocated from the cut surface by way of root grafts to the neighboring trees. And those trees are now dead, too.
So what to do? One thing done by those with a front-end loader or a backhoe, is to pull the stump and have an end to the sucker problem. It also reduces the possibility of chronic armillaria fungus persisting to infect trees. The problem is that it leaves a big hole to deal with which can open up a slope to erosion. If on a slope, it requires a decent sized tractor that can safely be operated on the slope without tearing up everything, including the irrigation system. And in the end, it's expensive.
The other approach is to just cut the tree down as low as possible without damaging the chain saw. Then as the irrigator makes inspections, just physically knock off the suckers as they come up. If walking the irrigation lines, it's not a problem. Covering the stump and immediate area with a physical barrier such as thick, black plastic sheet (greater than 5 ml), can reduce the number of suckers. To speed degradation of the stump, the top of the cut can be scored and a salt such as urea or magnesium sulfate (both at 10 pounds per stump) can be applied. At this rate, rather than fertilize the stump, under moist conditions, this treatment facilitates the activity of wood-decaying microorganisms; it can also damage or reduce the regrowth of the suckers.
There are also a range of registered contact herbicides that can be used to burn out the suckers. Materials, such as Scythe, Axxe and Suppress are all registered for avocado sucker control. There are others. These contact herbicide work best on small tender suckers so don't let the suckers grow more than a foot or so. For best control of suckers, apply them at the highest allowable rate with an approved adjuvant at a spray-to-wet rate. Because these products are not systemic, you'll likely need repeat applications, as new fresh buds break and new suckers erupt.
Using a contact spray means the grower would still need to be out in the orchard controlling the suckers. The grower still needs to be out in the orchard checking the irrigation lines. Why spray the suckers when they can just be broken off?
Although systemic herbicide can be used effectively to control suckers or stump sprouts in some tree crops or situations where root grafting does not occur, this is not a recommended practice for avocado because of the risk of damage to nearby trees.
- Author: Monique J. Rivera
- Author: Ben Faber
The false chinch bug (FCB), Nysius raphanus (Hemiptera: Lygaeidae), is a pest of many plants. FCB is a generalist and has been found to be a problem in many cropping systems such as soybeans, quinoa, tobacco, cotton, broccoli and other Brassicaceae plants. FCB adults (above) is mostly light to dark gray, elongate, and about 0.12 inch (3 mm) long. Females lay eggs on host plants or in cracks in soil. The mostly pale gray nymphs have inconspicuous reddish to brown abdominal markings. FCB has 4-7 generations per year with all stages being potentially present throughout the year. All stages can be present throughout the year. They also can be found invading homes in the southwest. Their populations generally start in unmanaged fields with lots of weeds and are an issue for crops when they build up large numbers and move into the crops from the unmanaged, weedy fields.
Photos: Surrendra Dara
This year it's host of choice is young avocado plantings in Ventura County. False chinch bug occasionally causes severe injury on young trees by sucking sap from shoots and young stems. Infested shoots wither and die suddenly after attack, which typically occurs in May and June. Economic damage normally occurs in groves away from the coast only on young trees in border rows adjacent to uncultivated areas or grasslands. Otherwise healthy mature trees tolerate bug feeding.
Here are photos of damage to young avocado provided by Tom Roberts, Integrated Consulting Entomology.
To best manage FCB, a grower will need to catch it before it establishes and the populations explode. This is difficult because the pest will not reoccur every year on regular basis. From what has been seen in the field this year, FCB appears to prefer young avocado plantings and thus, a targeted approach is to monitor only in new plantings right as summer temperatures are rising. In paper in the journal, Phytoparasitica from 2006, the authors investigated what color sticky trap was best for monitoring and found that yellow worked best. Thus, passive monitoring with yellow sticky cards that are placed throughout the field and monitored weekly is a potential option. However, this approach can be expensive with the labor hours needed to properly process the sticky cards. A more practical approach is to sweep net weedy areas on the outside of avocado groves and adjacent unmanaged areas nearby weekly in search for the first signs of FCB.
In conventional avocado production, there is only one insecticide recommended for use against FCB. Malathion 8 at 16 oz/acre.
California Avocado Society's
2020 Annual Meeting
Co-Sponsored by UCCE and
CA Avocado Commission
The 105th Annual Meeting will be Online
October 21, 2020 (Wednesday)
Starting at 9 AM
Speakers and Topics
Dr. Gary Bender - High density
Lance Andersen/John Burr - Water
Jim Davis - Lace bug
If you didnt hear or you want to hear again
Here's your opportunity
CA Avocado Society/CA Avocado Commission/UCCE
August Seminar/Webinar Topic
Life without Glyphosate, Weed ID, and A Review of Microbial Amendments
Click on the Presentations Title for the PowerPoints
by: Ben Faber
by: Sonia Rios
There have been recent reports of a beetle infesting downed avocado fruit in Ventura County. This scolytid weevil was first reported in San Diego in 2010. Gary Bender found it in a high density planting where fruit was lying on the ground.
The reports in Ventura have been of fruit that has found on the ground. It's a “B” rated pest that previously had only been reported from the Andes through Central America and Mexico into North Carolina. The main threat is to stored corn. The weevil is about the size of a sand grain. The photo below is by Alana King.
The beetle burrows into the fruit where the larvae tunnel the flesh.
Image - Aimee Smith
Image: Alana King
The avocado reports here have involved some superficial tunneling into the fruit flesh, although its various names include seed weevil. This is not the seed weevils Helipus or Conotrachelus which cause so much damage in Mexico
This insect probably is not a major threat to avocado, but just demonstrates again how easily pest infestations occur.