So where is the highest potential for avocado root rot in California? It turns out that the Natural Resource Conservation Service has taken the soils maps that have been generated for use by growers, engineers, planners and others over the years and used the data to rate soils for their sensitivity to root rot conditions. In many cases the county-based maps have been updated with new information, as well. It is now much easier to see where root rot would be more likely. The two major soil characteristics of soil texture and depth and how they affect drainage are the major parameters used to assess the root rot hazard. The soil surveys for years were only available in printed form, and then became available online about 2005. Just recently the added feature of identifying “root rot” soils was created. Now at the touch of a button, maps of where these soils are found are available. It looks like all California counties can be viewed from an avocado root rot hazard, even though avocados may not be grown in that climate, like Humboldt, but who really knows what can grow there. Soils that are conducive to Phytophthora root rot for avocados, would also be conducive for root rot in other plants species, as well. So, this information is helpful for identifying where rhododendrons or other susceptible species might have problems, as well.
Of course, this is just the first step in assessing the potential for root rot. Irrigation management is critical for creating root rot conditions that can occur even in soils that are not conducive to the disease. So, a soil identified as having a higher potential for root rot does not mean you cannot plant an avocado in it. The key is water management and how the tree is planted and how that soil is managed.
So, go to the Web Soil Survey: https://websoilsurvey.sc.egov.usda.gov/App/HomePage.htm
Click on an Area of Interest (type in California and your county or even your address)
Then click on “Soil Map” tab and you will see the map polygons or soil units for that area
Then click on “Soil Data Explorer” tab to get “Suitabilities and Limitations Ratings” on the left side
Click on “Land Management” and there is “Avocado Root Rot Hazard”
Click on “View Rating” and the map will appear with colored units showing root rot hazard along with a chart showing the root rot hazard of the different soils in the map.
Wow. Watch out for those dark areas.