- Author: Ben Faber
A great idea from Ed McFadden of Philmore
You can always do something to prevent or correct the Big 4 that seem to strike avocados on a regular basis somewhere in California. Avocados in the back country are right up against areas that can burn easily. A fast fire can send embers into an orchard which can burn through the thick leaves in a slow burn. If it gets up against leaves piled up against the trunk, it can girdle the tree, killing it. The slow burn can continue through the orchard torching the irrigation lines. With a small fire break where the leaves are removed in a small alley, the burn can be slowed or stopped.
Leaves are great for erosion control, for nutrient cycling and disease control, but if they mean increasing potential for fire spread, it's a good idea to remove a little of it. Ed has found that a backpack blower can rapidly remove leaves from around the base of trees and create a narrow fire break that can reduce fire damage to trees.
Avocado orchards are notable for their ability to actually reduce fire hazard and slow major fires as has been shown in fires in San Diego, Ventura and Santa Barbara. This is partly due to running sprinklers during wild fire. But tree loss can still occur, especially when electricity goes down and pumps can't run.
Little rain this year or too much rain this year can always pose a hazard to avocado orchards. This sure seems like a good idea to me. And maybe it's time to start thinking about fire season now.
Photos: Cleared alley and trunk.