High Density Avocado Installation: Use a Quick Cost Study to Make a Decision

Nov 11, 2013

High Density Avocado Installation: Use a Quick Cost Study to Make a Decision

Nov 11, 2013


Since our last article on high-density avocados appeared in Topics in Subtropics we have had a lot of questions from growers concerning the cost of installation of such a grove.  We have also had a lot of interest from potential winegrape growers who think this might be the way to go given that wine-grapes use about 25% of the amount of water per acre compared to avocados.  For higher quality wines growers use less water, but harvest lower pounds/acre.

I am currently advising a student at Cal State San Marcos who is doing a cost study for removing an avocado grove and installing a winegrape planting in San Diego County.  Hopefully we will have an article on that in the near future.

We don’t have a lot of experience in high density avocados but we will try to show some costs to help you decide.

Clearing an older grove can get expensive.  In a study we did in 2010 we found that it cost $40/tree to cut a tree down, haul the cut wood down to a firewood stack and haul to small branches to a chipper.  The old stump is usually killed with a herbicide and left in place to rot.  So, just to remove a tree at 109 trees/acre may cost $4,360 per acre.

For our high density planting we will be planting Hass avocados grafted on Dusa rootstock.  We are using this rootstock because it appears from several trials to be a good rootstock for resistance to avocado root rot in the well-draining hillside soils in San Diego County.   

The current price is about $30/tree (plus or minus).  For a 10’ x 10’ spacing we would plant about 435 trees per acre, this would be an initial cost of $13,500/acre.  We are not calculating the cost of a grove road installation, and we are assuming that the entire acre would be planted.

Planting cost: digging, planting, wrapping and staking trees takes about 15 minutes per tree.  This includes carrying the tree to the hole.  At 435 trees per acre, this would take about 109 hrs.  At $14/hr, this would cost $1526/ac.  Stakes (435) at $2.25/stake would cost $979/ac.

The irrigation system installation would cost $2,660/ac.   This is based on an entire system being installed in a 20 acre block, divided by 20 to get the cost per acre. 

There are quite a few other costs that you can see from our complete avocado cost study, but these basic costs will get the trees in the ground (Table 1).



Table 1.  Basic costs for the installation of a high   density avocado grove.


Trees (Hass on Dusa rootstock)




Planting (digging, planting and   wrapping)








Irrigation system







If you are thinking about planting 10 acres, then you would need $186,650 in the bank to get the trees in the ground.  There will be some shifting of costs because this study does not include clearing or building of grove roads, and with grove roads you will be planting less numbers of trees/acre.

Will you make more money in the long run?  That is the question we are trying to answer with our high density trial in Valley Center.


Bender, G.S. and E. Takele. 2010. A guide to estimate compensation for loss of a single avocado tree. University of California Cooperative Extension county publication AV 606.

Takele, E., Bender, G.S., and M.Vue. 2011. Avocado sample establishment and production costs and profitability analysis for San Diego and Riverside counties, conventional production practices.  http://coststudies.ucdavis.edu/


High Density Avocado Trial in San Diego County






By Gary S. Bender
Author - Farm Advisor-Emeritus