It's winter time and avocados and other subtropicals are prone to frost damage. Little trees especially that haven't developed a canopy that can trap heat are the most prone. So it gets cold and all the orchard looks fine, but there's one tree that doesn't look right and in a couple of days it really stands out.
Here's an example of a year old tree that turned brown and it actually looks like it was doing better than the trees surrounding. It's bigger and has a fuller canopy..... or at least it did.
But there's all the symptoms of frost damage - bronzed leaves and dead tips.
A week after the cold weather, there is already sunburn damage on the exposed stems. See the brown spots on the upper fork? That will soon turn all brown and dry up.
This is still a healthy tree with green stems, in spite of the burned leaves. Now is the time to protect the tree from sunburn damage. This is what can kill the little tree. Time to white wash it.
Why did it happen to this one tree? Maybe it was a little bigger and needed more water than the surrounding trees. Maybe sitting on a rock and didn't have enough rooting volume for water. Maybe a touch of root rot (although the roots looked pretty good even for winter time). And there were ground squirrels in the area. Easy to bklamne them.
Listen to the sound of winter frost control
And when freeze damage gets extreme
It is that time of year and we should be alert to threat of freezing weather and damage to trees. Last winter was one of the warmest on record, but there was still a sneak cold blast around December 25 that caused some problems in some areas. Wet winters tend to have lower frost threats, and even though wet is forecast for this winter, the forecast is erratic, as usual. That still leaves January which historically is when most of our damaging frosts occur. Fox Weather on the CA Avocado Commission is forecasting some cold weather coming up, so growers need to be prepared for the worst.
Here are some links to frost information, preparing for frost and managing frost damage to trees.
A Frost Primer
The forecast is for north winds, which often means cold, dry air and often with winds. Winds mean no inversion and no warm air that can be introduced at ground level to warm trees. If this occurs, running a wind machine can make the damage worse. Wind machines and orchard heaters work on the principle of mixing that warmer air higher up – 20-100 or so feet higher than ground level which has colder air. When temperatures drop, the air is dry (wet-bulb temp below 28 deg F) and there is no inversion, running a wind machine can just stir up cold air and cause worse conditions (freeze-drying). It's better to not run the machine. The only thing left to do is to run the microsprinklers during the day so that the water can absorb the day's heat. Then turn the water off before sunset so that evaporative cooling from the running water isn't accentuated. Then when temperatures drop near 32 at night and the dewpoint is much below that, it's time to start the water again and let it run until sunrise (when risk is less). Running water works even if the water freezes. This is due to the release of heat when water goes from liquid to frozen state. This 1-2 degrees can mean the difference between frost damage and no damage. Also, ice on fruit and leaves can insulate the fruit. As the ice melts at the surface of the plant, it releases heat, protecting the plants. If there is not sufficient water to run the whole orchard, it's best to pick out the irrigation blocks that are the coldest or the ones you definitely want to save and run the water there continuously. Running the water and turning it off during the night to irrigate another block can lead to colder temperatures in both blocks.
Keep warm this winter.
and check out this Wind Machine You Tube:
University of California Cooperative Extension, USDA Farm Service Agency, California Avocado Commission and California Avocado Society
Fire Recovery and Frost Refresher
Santa Paula Agricultural Museum, 926 Railroad Ave, Santa Paula
January 10, 9 – 11 AM, Wednesday
Introduction – Ben Faber, UCCE
Fire Damage to Santa Barbara and Ventura County Agriculture – Henry Gonzales, VC Ag Commissioner
Damage to Avocado Orchards – Ken Melban, CAC
Disaster Resources Available from USDA – Farm Service Agency – Daisy Banda, USDA- FSA
Assessing Fire and Frost Damage and Recovery Practices – Ben Faber
Fire Loss Calculator – Eta Takele, UCCE
Fire Experiences – What Works, What Doesn't and What Might – Grower Panel
Representatives from Ventura and Santa Barbara Agriculture Commissions will be present
FSA will be present from 8-12 to take Disaster Applications
Refreshments will be served.
For information contact: Ben Faber (805)645-1462
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At a recent meeting for current and prospective avocado growers near Visalia, Yosepha Shahak a retired researcher from Israel's Volcani Institute presented information on photo-selective netting. This netting was an outgrowth of netting that is used in the Mediterranean region to protect crops from frost damage and the unpredictable hail storms that can occur just as fruit might be coming to harvest. Netting is currently used in commercial orchards and vineyards throughout Europe. San Joaquin Valley growers like the idea of frost protection.
Netting over loquats (nespero) in Spain (Espana)
Netting over apples in Australia
Netting for light modification in Israel. Tractors can work here.
Photo-selective netting refers to covering crops by nets having the capacity to selectively filter the intercepted solar radiation, in addition to their protective function. The technology is based on plastic net products into which light dispersive and reflective elements are introduced during manufacturing. These nets are designed to screen various spectral bands of the solar radiation, and/or transform direct light into scattered light. The spectral manipulation intends to specifically promote desired physiological responses, which are light-regulated, while the scattering improves the penetration of the modified light into the inner plant canopy. So, depending on the crop, more and better fruit set, bigger fruit and some other desirable properties. The netting can also substantially reduce evaporative demand and wind damage. This can lead to not only lower water use, but also such water stress related diseases, such as blight caused by Botryosphaeria fungi. Lower evaporative demand and less water application can lead to less salt damage.
A recent additional aspect to the photo-selective nets refers to their effects on pest behavior. The photo-selective netting concept was developed and tested in Israel in ornamental, vegetable and fruit tree crops. It is gradually spreading all over the world, for implementation in different crops, climatic regions and cultivation methods. Applying it to avocado orchards is going to require pruning and keeping trees so that they can be picked and pollinated. And would probably lead to high density orchards.
And how we do pest management – more or less, and maybe not by helicopter?
This might also be the future for how citrus is grown in an HLB environment. 24 sprays a year to control ACP in Florida -Yikes.
A link to a Shahak talk that she gave to Washington state apple growers can be found at:
Interested in San Joaquin Valley Avocados?
When: NOVEMBER 28, Tuesday, 1PM
UC Lindcove Research and Extension Center Conference Room (22963 Carson Ave, Exeter, CA 93221), Central Valley.
Welcome and Introductions – Mary Lu Arpaia, UC Riverside
Challenges to growing avocados in the Valley
Irrigation, Fertilization and Soil Requirements – Ben Faber, UCCE, Ventura County
Avocado Root Rot and how to manage – Greg Douhan, UCCE, Tulare County
What is the California Avocado Commission and the Hass Avocado Board? – Tim Spann, California Avocado Commission, Irvine, CA
Results from the Tier 3 varietal evaluation block at UC Lindcove REC – Mary Lu Arpaia and Eric Focht, UC Riverside
Ideas for the Valley Avocado Industry – Group Discussion
Walkthrough of the Tier 3 varietal evaluation block
RSVP to Diana Nix (firstname.lastname@example.org)
For more information contact Mary Lu Arpaia (email@example.com)