- Author: Ben Faber
So a question comes in about a problem with a backyard avocado tree. And it would seem the first question would be about the overgrowth happening at the base of the trunk. This a ‘Fuerte' avocado that is grafted on a seedling avocado rootstock. It's not unusual to see an overgrowth, but this is the most extreme example I have ever seen. So it's basically an incompatibility between the graft and the rootstock. In many cases this is no big problem and trees can live a long time, as this tree has.
But the homeowner wasn't asking about the unusual growth at the base, but the canker that had appeared in the center of the trunk near the base.
This has the classic white sugar exudate that occurs with a wound of any kind in avocado. The sugary sap that contains the unusual mannoheptulose 7-carbon sugar characteristic of the laurel family to which avocado belongs will ooze out of the wound and result in a white crust (Read more about this sugar at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0254629911001372 ).
Anyway, so this backyard tree is in an area that is getting 10 minutes of lawn watering a day. Lawns and avocados don't get along. And avocados don't get along with short, shallow irrigation that result in salt accumulating in the root zone. Which is what has happened here. Salt stress and the result is an infection of bacterial canker (https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=7920 ).
It's not fatal in an old tree like this, but it can predispose the tree to root rot. And that's not something that is easy to treat in backyard settings.