How to grow avocados for profit

Did the title get your interest? Well, if you are an avocado farmer you will want to read this blog weekly. I am Charley Wolk, an avocado farmer in Southern California, who has been in the industry for more than 38 years, and manage my own grove as well as dozens of groves for other farmers.

I will discuss in this forum:

  • Water (price & availability) how to best use and conserve it.
  • Government policies and regulations
  • New, and tried and true Agricultural practices
  • Profitable Packing House utilization

and various other topics as demanded by your responses.

No question is stupid, feel free to ask all……….
I have been involved with the California commission, Nutrition committee, various water boards and other related entities, local, national and worlwide…….

I write this blog as a farmer who is experiencing the same challenges that you face daily and want to share some of my expertise to make your efforts more productive and more profitable.We all win when California growers produce the best avocado crops possible……..Semper Fi

 


Comments

How to grow avocados for profit — 380 Comments

  1. I may want to use your consultation services regarding proper irrigation of an avocado grove. Can you email me your contact info for a quick phone call?

  2. Hi Mr. Wolk,
    My girlfriend and I live in Virginia but want to move to Temecula after we finish graduate school. She still has about 3-4 more years left. Do you think it would be feasible for us to buy a property now (or within a year or so) with trees on it and try to manage the farm from a distance for a few years until we are able to move out there? There must be companies out there that people hire to help with maintenance of the trees and harvest of the fruit? The prices seem good right now and we are afraid if we wait to get started prices may go up and we may never get the guts to do it.
    Thanks,
    Tom

    • Tom, Your concept is solid. I don’t know what you have in mind to manage from a distance. That’s tough other than general direction. Yes there are management companies available for the daily operation of the orchard. That is what my company does. As you move forward let me know if I can help. Thanks, Charley

  3. Hi Charley-I really appreciate your blog. I recently attededan investment conference where one presentation was on investing in a 1 hectare hass avocado farm in Panama with 200 trees. Land is 40K and crop maintenace csts after 4 yrs. Is $6500 per yr. Irrigation, crop maintenance, harvest, packing, shipping, findind buyers all included. Avocados organic. They predict a 20 per cent annual return. Does this sound realistic? How many pounds of harvest might I expect given 200 trees? How I was excited at first but I am now wary given cost of land and annual crop maintence fee no matter what harvest yields. Thanks for any information you can provide that might help me make an informed decision.
    n

    • James, I don’t know about the economics in Panama. I can only comment on the numbers applied in California. The land price seems a little high for bare land. We are planting high density in California so 200 trees are spaced too far apart. You say maintenance costs are $6500 per year after 4 years. What about the first 4 years? Also the $6500 would not buy packing, shipping, and marketing. So my bottom line is the situation requires more research.

  4. Hi Charlie!

    My family and I are considering the purchase of a property in Fallbrook. It’s a 15 acre property with 200 avocado trees. We really don’t know anything about growing avocados, but would love to learn. Here is my question, before we move forward with putting an offer in on the house we would like to meet with you at the property for a consultation/analysis. We understand there are numerous factors involved in getting a realistic idea of operational costs/potential revenue, and we would be so grateful to recieve your expert advice! Can I get your contact info so I can give you a call in the near future to set up a meeting? Thanks again! Rachel

    • Rachel, I can evaluate the agricultural aspects of the property. I will send you contact information separately.

  5. Hi Charley,

    I’m a student at the University of Southern California. I am launching my own growing company in Michoacan, Mexico. I have relatives that have been growing Avocados for years now. I want to see if it’s possible to get your guidance and feedback on a new idea i have. Would you mind in sending me your contact info so we can have a conversation.

    Thanks in advanced and i hope to hear from you soon.

  6. Hi Charley,

    I own a property in Sherman Oaks, CA that have three avocado trees that are 15’ – 20’ (feet) tall and approximately 60 years in age. This is my first year that I have owned the property.

    In March the avocado trees began to bloom avocados. Each tree has 500 to 1500 avocados growing. Yes that is right 500 – 1500 avocados. One of the avocados trees that I estimate are growing 1500 avocados, in the last 3 weeks the tree leaves are turning brown, and approximately 1/3 over 500 avocados have fallen from the tree branches. The tree continues to grow new leaves at the top of the tree so I don’t believe it is a watering issue. I water each tree the same amount of water 10 minutes / 3 times a week. I recently watered the trunk of the tree and when I did a herd of small ants came out of the tree bark.

    Can you help me diagnose what the problem is with the tree? If it would help you diagnose the tree issue I can take photos of the tree and leaves and send you the photos.

    Thank you

    • Jerry, A mature avocado tree requires at least 450 gallons of water every week. The trees you describe probably need more. When you water for 10 minutes 3 times a week you probably only wetted the leaves on the top of the ground. There is no water reaching the roots. Those ants won’t cause any damage to a tree that old. The leaves turning brown is caused by inadequate water being available to the tree. I can’t tell you how much to water because I don’t know what kind of sprinklers you have. Find out what the flow rate is for the sprinklers and calculate how long it has to run to deliver 450 gallons. Put the water on in one irrigation. You have probably lost the crop for next year but you can get the tree set up for next spring. Good luck.

  7. Hi Charley, we are interested in growing avocados, but at this moment we know nothing about the process, so we appreciate finding a site where you can tell us what we need to know. We are looking at land in Columbus, NM. We would have to drill for water and build from ground up. We want it to be a sustainable business with other things, like maybe bamboo and fast growing trees for lumber. Is this just a pipe dream or could it work? Is it warm enough there? Would Avocados grow in unknown soil? We thought we would ask for a grant to pay for the endeavor. Could you share your thoughts about this? Thanks jkh

    • Jim and Kathleen, Your idea sounds very interesting. I will give you a few comments to help. You will have to check the weather records in Columbus. Remember the avocado is a tropical plant and cannot handle freezing temperatures. It also needs a lot of water. So you will need to have good wells. The tree needs well drained soil. Nutrients can be added. Assuming growing conditions will work you will still need to pack, ship, and market the product. I don’t know about growing bamboo or lumber. Good luck.

  8. Charles,

    I am looking to get an inspection on some property we are purchasing out in Temecula. There are about 1,100 trees on the property. We want to get a general inspection on the crop, cost to get fully operational, as well as the costs if we needed to completely clear out the land.

    If you have any contacts for an inspection like this I would appreciate any help.

    Thank you

    • Dillon, I can do that for you on a consulting basis. I will send you my contact info separately. Thanks, Charley

  9. Charley,

    We just purchased a new 5 acre land in Temecula and is thinking of planting new avocado grove. Does it make economic sense to go with other avocado varieties(such as REED) vs HASS trees? Thank you in advance.

    • Jack, Growing multiple varieties is always worth considering. You spread your risk in the market place and is some cases the cultural risks. The Reed would be a good choice in a varietal mix. It is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Right now Whole Foods would buy every one in sight. Other considerations could be Lamb Hass. Just keep in mind that you only have 5 acres. The more you diversify the more you give up economy of scale. Getting some one to come and harvest one acre will be difficult. Additionally the handlers don’t like running small lots in the packing house. Think it over. Charley

  10. Hi Charlie, I’m moving to Palm Coast Florida in few months. Can you tell me if its good place to start avocado plantation? Thank you

    • Dorothy, The temperatures should be fine in that part of Florida. You have to sure the soils are well drained because of getting much more rain than the growing areas in the west. The avocado tree likes water but it also is not happy with having wet feet all the time. Good luck. Charley

  11. Dear Charley ,

    i growth some seedling avocado , after one year i transfer them out door for check temperature and soil condition, after 6 month they are alive but all leaves fall from trees and wood still are green without any new leaves, can you help me that problem is temperature or humidity or soil Please? thanks

    • Kaveh, You don’t say where you are when you put them out doors. You don’t say but it sounds like you have them in containers. It sounds like you are putting too much water on them. Remember the plant has to dry out after irrigation. Stop watering and see if they don’t flush new leaf growth. If they do adjust your watering so they dry out before you apply more water. Good luck’ Charley

    • Mabaso, I have no idea. There are avocado packers in South Africa. I believe they would be willing to help you.

  12. I live near the Mississippi coast, & have a 4FT Joey Avocado tree planted 2FT away from my driveway. I’ve allowed room for a 4FT trunk at ground level: I plan to cut a half circle into the driveway, & install a tree crate. Any idea what the trunk can mature to? More importantly;do you know if this coldest hardy variety would pollinate better with another avocado variety? I can’t find this information!

    • David, I do not recognize the avocado variety joey so it is difficult for me to answer all your questions. First I can’t envision planting any avocado tree only 2FT from a driveway. I assume the driveway is not paved if you can cut a half circle in it. Trunk size is usually measured at the diameter. Allowing for a 4FT trunk would be an enormous tree. I can’t answer your question about pollination. Charley

  13. Hi Charley, I am looking into a property with a home on it, and 15 acres of avocado trees. Basically a functioning farm for over 30 years. I would like to consult with you on the well, the overall status of the farm and soil. Can you please send me your contact info. I am in a bit of a rush as I need to put an offer in soon. Thank You

  14. Hi. I recently purchased a house in El Cajon with 1.5 acres and 30 plus avocado trees. The grove is old and was planted in the late 1950’s and early 1960s with the Fuerte variety. About 25 years ago (?) most of the trees were cut off and had Haas grafted on. A few Fuerte’s were preserved. The grove has been in steady decline in recent years due to drought. Currently less than half the trees are producing. The previous owner was not really into avocado culture and tree management. I am new to this (1 month now) and am looking for some consulting to help me with management of the grove. Would you be able to help me? I have a lot to learn about watering, fertilizing,pruning, etc. Thanks.

    • Tim, I suspect those trees are the remains of a very old commercial avocado grove. I also suspect that what you are observing is not the impact of the drought but the trees have root rot. It is a fungus that can come from other plants usually ornamentals. I believe you should go to the University of California cooperative extension web site to get the basic information about growing avocados. The address is ucan.org/sites/gardenweb/files/29079.pdf. From there I would try to answer your questions. Consulting on 30 trees really is not appropriate. Ultimately you will probably replace the trees. Thanks, Charley

  15. Hi Charley,

    My girlfriend and I are interested in growing an avocado tree or two indoors. I have a few questions (I’m a complete newcomer so these may test your “no question is stupid” policy…).

    It seems from reading around that it is indeed possible to grow avocado trees indoor in some type of container system. Do you have any recommendations for such a system? Is it possible to get fruit from an avocado tree using artificial lights? What kind of lights are necessary?
    Is it possible (and are there any advantages) to grow avocado trees hydroponically?
    If so, is it possible to transplant a purchased, grafted Avocado tree from soil to an indoor hydroponic system?

    Thanks, we really appreciate your expertise!

    Best,
    Mike

    • Mike, Interesting questions. Usually folks ask about growing the tree in a green house. The simple answer is yes the tree would grow inside. We have student projects where they grow a tree from a seed. That being said I don’t believe you could grow a tree inside with a goal of producing fruit. First it has to get big enough to have old enough wood to produce flowers. Next those flowers have to be pollinated usually by bees. Generally speaking plants can be manipulated by controlling light. I know of no commercial trees being grown hydroponically. So we come full circle to the point that I don’t believe indoors will work. Charley

  16. Dear Mr Wolk,

    I am from the Czech Republic and it seems that there is now cash crop. Would avocado tree survive here? I have read some information and I found that some cultivars may survive up to -12°C.

    So my question basically is if I plant avocado tree here, would it survive through winter with snow and temperatures that can drop to -10°C and then give me fruit during summer?

    Thank you very much for any information.

    Miroslav

  17. For those of you failing to find the “how to grow avocados” paper from the link posted twice recently, try ucanr, not ucan.

  18. Buyer beware!! My husband and I retired to Fallbrook 4 months ago. Two of our four acres were sold as 187 Hass producing trees. It turns out we have less than 100 trees because the previous property owners cut back on watering and many trees died or are producing very little fruit. Shame on us for not doing better due diligence up front. The fruit was harvested today and produced only one bin. Our plan was to give all net proceeds to local charities and our church. Before we invest too much more, I would like to have someone come out and look at the property to determine the cost to either build it up or “call it a day”. Would you mind recommending someone to us? Thank you.

    • Julie, I’m sorry you have this initial disappointment with avocados. I can look at the orchard and give you an opinion. I do this on a consulting basis. I will send you my contact information separately. Chgarley

  19. I am new in Avocado farming; I just conceived the idea as a backward integration to my cosmetic business. The idea wan an award and am now at the early development stage of the business idea. I want to start Avocado farming and oil extraction in Nigeria.

    I need complete mentorship and guideline.

    Please help.
    Tope

    • Amujo, The best place to start acquiring knowledge about growing avocados is at the University of California cooperative extension web site. ucan.org/sites/gardenweb/files/29079.pdf This will give you the basics. Remember you will have to adjust some points because it was written for California. Charley

      • Hi Charley, unfortunately the UCAN document seems to no longer exists at that address. My wife and I are returning soon to New Zealand from Los Angeles and are considering buying a small avocado orchard in Tauranga, 2 acres. We know nothing about growing avocados. Is it a lot of work?

        • Todd, Try using ucavo.ucr.edu. I don’t know what happened to the other address. There are a lot of folks in Tauranga who can help you. The New Zealand avocado growers association is located in Tauranga. If you contact them tell them I said hello. Two acres will keep you busy. A lot of work is in the eyes of the beholder. Good luck. Charley

  20. Hi Charley

    I have been thinking of starting hass avocado farming in Kenya, kindly email me the do’s snd dont’s, number of trees that can fit in one acre and production per year, how long they take to mature if planted from scratch…My email address is johangfitouts@gmail.com. Thanks.
    Mwangi John

    • John, As I have suggested to others the best place to start building your knowledge of growing avocados is the University of California web site, ucan.org/sites/gardenweb/files/29079.pdf/ Just remember it was written for California so you may have to make some adjustments. Thanks, Charley

    • Dear Charley,
      I am thinking to buy a 20-30 acre land in the Fallbrook/Bonsall/Temecula area to build a orchard and a house for our retirement. Will dig a well if there is none in the property. We will fly there from Illinois this July 4 week to take a close look at the area.
      My question is:
      What is the logic/procedure when looking for a property? Should I get a permit to dig a well, for suer to get water in the well before I am able to get a permit to build a house? If so, when should I make an offer? By the way, should I jump into farming in CA considering the drought conditions in CA now?
      Thank you very much for your time and help, I appreciate. Jane

      • Jane, Let me answer the well questions first. Wells here are different than those in the Midwest. The water is in between plates rather than in a big lake under the ground. The well driller will get the required permits. If the property is not served by a water district the county will require evidence of a water supply before issuing a building permit. You can make an offer and put conditions on the sale eg. water and perk test for a septic system. I will send you my contact information if you need more help. Thanks, Charley

      • Hi Jane,

        We have approx 84 acres for sale in Fallbrook. We have an avocado grove on some of the acreage. It is a beautiful area and a beautiful piece of land. Please reply to this post if you would like some additional information or would like to see the property. Linda

        • Linda, I’ll post this so if there are any interested folks they can contact you. Occasionally I have people contact me looking for groves. I’ll send your way. Charley

        • Hi linda we are currently thinking about moving to fall brook. are you looking to sell your land as a whole or could buildable parcels be purchased. please let me know.

  21. Charley,
    I’m looking into buying a 4 acre avocado grove in temecula and I have very little knowledge about avocados. Can you send me some information about farming avocados. thank you.

    • Abel, I recommend going to the University of California web site, ucan.org/sites/gardenweb/files/29079.pdf. It has solid information and covers all the facets of growing. Thanks, Charley

  22. Hi Charlie, I am looking to start a small business with a little avo farm my family has. There are about 100 trees bairing avo’s.I would like to start my own small business venture. I would really appreciate if you could give me any tips moving forward?

    • Jean, Your question is interesting. You didn’t say what kind of business venture you wanted to start. I assume you mean direct marketing the crop. You didn’t say where you are so that makes the replay a little challenging. The easiest administratively is to just get certified by your County as a grower so you can sell at Farmer’s Markets. Hopefully you are close to more than on market so you can sell on more than one day. While this is administratively easy it takes a lot of work and time. If you don’t go all the time customers will have to discover you each time you do go. Additionally market managers want to have regular vendors. The other alternative is mail order but that takes more time to get established and will require more investment in advertising. You can also try swap meets for a selling venue. Good luck on your venture. Charley

  23. We are buying a house in Fallbrook on 4 acres. It already has 100 trees on the property (we’re still on the east coast so we haven’t verified that’s the exact number). I’ve been doing some reading online about growing avocados, but I think in the best interest of time it would make sense to have someone come out and look at the trees and give us their impression. Could you send me your information on your services? Thanks.

    • Sarah, I am sending you some information on our services separately. If you have more questions, you can use the email. Thanks, Charley

      • Hi Charley, I am a realtor and one of my clients are purchasing a land about ten acres, I believe has 400 Avo trees, since in January 2015 we had that big snow storm in Murrieta California, obviously it hit some groves including Avo trees, if some trees look half a dry and brown but some green would they come back alive and how long does it take, plus do you recommend to do agricultural lab test? Can you explain about the water take of each tree which in our case we do have a irrigation system.
        Thanks for your help

        • Nazik, If there are only 400 trees the parcel is not fully planted. The general statement would be that the cold damaged trees will come back. Without seeing how much damage was done to the trunk it is hard to say whether it worthwhile to wait for them to come back. The tree will produce new growth on all of the branches not killed by the cold by Labor Day. I don’t know what you have in mind for a lab test. They are either cold damaged or not. You don’t need a lab to tell you that. A mature avocado tree needs about 450 gallons of water per week in the summer. If you have more questions let me know. Charley

    • Karz, I believe the best way to get started is to go to the University of California web site. You can get the basic information about growing avocados. You may have to adjust the information to apply to the conditions in Tanzania. The basic information is there. The address is ucan.org/sites/gardenweb/files/29079.pdf. Good luck on your project. Charley

  24. I am leasing a home on an avocado farm that is also for sale. I have no avocado experience, but this land looks like a good investment and want to pitch it to a wealthy relative. It has over 3500 mature trees and 1500 stumped due to water issues (even though it has seven wells). I need to get a good business plan put together before I present a proposal. I would like to get your contact information to investigate the costs of having your company manage the groves. Thanks, Steve

  25. My mother lives in La Habra California and has two avocado trees that are loaded with fruit that she cannot pick. I was hoping you could recommend someone or a business that can come to her home and pick them for her and pay her a fair price for them. One tree is of the bacon variety and the other she claims is Elsie (they are very large and creamy). Thanks for your help. David

    • David, You have a tough situation. I don’t know of anyone who would come to pick two trees. If they would I’m not sure they would be willing to pay for them. Just getting there and then getting to a place to sell them would quickly consume any potential profit. My only suggestion would be to go to a local farmers market to ask one of the venders if they would be interested in the fruit. Good luck. Charley

      • There are some of non-profit organizations that will come and pick excess fruit from private properties and donate them to food banks or services you can link to

        Here are a couple (in case this post doesn’t accept links, just remove the spaces)
        Food Forward (www. foodfoward. org)
        Neighborhood Fruit (www. neighborhoodfruit. com)
        SoCalHarvest (www. socalharvest. org)

        just google a search for something like, backyard fruit picker charities

        Hope this helps

        • Jackie, Thanks for the info. I suspect that there are other readers who will be interested in this information. Charley

  26. Hi Charlie I just now found this site.

    I’m in Vallejo California and we are up on the side of a hill.

    Three years back I came to the conclusion that our house/lot meets the criteria for growing avocados. Initially I planted a Wurtz. It grew 5X in size (mostly horizontal) in 3 years and had nice fruit.

    I planted a Mexicola in a more horizontal part of the lot and it also grew about 4X in three years with nice fruit.

    But the results for other areas of the same lot have produced failures. I had a Zutano only about 15 ft from the Mexicola. It also started to grow and was about 2X. With the recent heavy rain the leaves started to dry up, fall and then the tree started to turn grey/black and die. So I planted two Hass on each side of it about 15 ft to either side. Those trees died within 6 months. So I planted an additional Wurtz directly opposite the existing Wurtz at essentially the same angle of drainage and so far it is doing just fine. My question: is it wise to replant new stock at the three sites that apparently had root rot. If the rot came as a result of the heavy rain, it might have been a single event that likely might not return for a year or two. On the other hand, if once infected the site is toxic, I would like to know this and not waist my money.
    Thank you, Fred Rowley

    • Fred, Your questions are interesting. I need to make some assumptions. First root rot cannot come in rain it self. The rain can move the fungus. So if there is a home above the avocado trees with ornamental landscape plants that could be carriers the rain could transport the fungus to the avocados. I don’t know what the soil condition is. Also I don’t know if you planted the trees in basins or on mounds. If root rot is the problem, I’m not sure it could have impacted the newly planted trees so quickly. All this being said it sounds like there is some other problem effecting your planting. I believe you should locate a local ag lab and take soil and root samples from each hole and see what the analysis shows. It may be there has been a chemical dump there previously.
      Let me know what you find. Charley

  27. Hi Charley,

    Great site, thanks. Is there a site that posts weekly/daily wholesale avacado pricing information for Southern California?

    Thanks!

    • Matthew, There are prices in the LA Times business section. These prices usually lag a day or two. There are also prices in the California Avocado Commission web site, avocado.org. These will give you a start and there are links that may provide more information. Thanks, Charley

  28. Hi Charley –

    We own a small avocado grove in San Bernardino. We have about 600 trees of mixed varieties. We have our own water sources from two springs and a well. We are thinking of selling our property with our 5500 sqft adobe home but are not sure how to price the water portion of our property. We have spoken to a real estate agent but he is unsure of how to price the water also since this is a one of a kind property – no comps available. The property has 9 planted acres with an additional 22 acres that have not been planted yet and have not have irrigation installed at this time. The 22 acres have olive trees planted in one area. Any ideas you have would be appreciated thank you.

    • Tim, I understand your challenge is to put a value on the water on your property. I assume the springs are running into a reservoir and the water is pumped from there to the orchard. I also suppose the well could also be flowing into a reservoir. If you have meters on the water being delivered to the trees the task is easier. If not you would need to calculate the water used from the flow rating of the sprinklers. If that is not practical than an estimate can be used. Once you have the usage then go to the water district and ask how much it would cost to buy that much water. I trust this will help. Good luck. Charley

  29. We have a very large avocado tree in our backyard that is about 30 years old. We are selling our house and I was wondering if this tree would increase the value of the house? By how much (basically how much is the tree worth)? It fruits about 300-500 avocados every winter.

    • Heather, The value of avocado trees are normally in the context of commercial orchards. I don’t know that one tree would necessarily add value to a home sale. Depending on its health the eyes of the buyer it could be a deterrent to the sale. Hope this helps. Charley

  30. Hi Charley,

    Really appreciate the blog and the information. My GF and I are in negotiations to buy a 13 acre orchard near ojai that is already planted, irrigated, has a great water supply and produces great organic fruit. It is already set up with a service that harvests the fruit intermittently when the prices are right. He has 5-6 different varieties of Avos planted.

    My question is, how much work is it to maintain something like this and how easy is it to step away for a few weeks to a month here and there for vacation etc. We love the concept of the orchard, but are also big surfers with a previous frequent travel history, and are a little unsure how tied to the land we will become. The current owner has a orchard hand that helps, and we would likely do the same. But wondering how easy it is to get it set up such that you can take off for a while and travel.

    -S and H

    • Scott, I am often asked that question. I don’t believe you will like my answer. If you are going to manage the operation it will require your full attention. Can you leave for a month? Yes if you have a work plan for tasks to be accomplished while you are gone and whoever you leave is competent. The orchard hand is exactly that a working hand. Usually they are short on technical knowledge and not good managers including their own time. I am sure you will enjoy the land you are acquiring. Save yourself some aggravation and money. Hire a competent management firm to operate the orchard. It will cost you less money and you can leave whenever you want for as long as you want. Thanks, Charley

  31. Hi Charley,

    We are living in Wildomar, Ca. We have about 1 acre lot, and we are thinking of planting about 10 avocado trees. We are curious if avocado trees can grow well in this area. If they do, what avocado type are the most suitable for this area?

    Thanks in advance

    Daniel

    • Daniel, The Wildomar area in general is suitable for growing avocados. That being said there are many area there where is gets too cold. So you want to be sure it does not get too cold on your property. You can get a minimum reading thermometer and watch over a winter. You can look at the other plants on your property to see if any have sustained cold damage previously. If you are going to plant 10 trees that is more than needed for your personal use. I assume you are going to sell them at road side or a farmers market. If the area passes the cold test I would suggest you plant more than one variety. Hass, Reed, Fuerte, and Lamb Hass might be a start. This would give you fruit over an extended period.

  32. Hi Charlie,

    Thank you for all the information you have been providing us with. I am looking into buying a 20 acre land that has about 800 avocado trees that are bearing fruit and 700 that are newly planted. I have been following your blog for quite some time now and couldn’t wait to have my own avocado farm.I am very excited in buying this property and have a lot of questions about it. I will really appreciate it if we can exchange emails, or even have a short call just so I can see what you think about this property.

    Thanks,
    Leo

    • Leo, I can help you with your decisions on buying an avocado property. I will send direct contact info separately. Thanks, Charley

      • Hello I was wondering if you can help out! My father gave me a big peace of property and I want to plant avocado trees. Can I contact you direct.

        Thanks

        Ernie

      • Charley, I purchased a home in Bonsall with a small grove (about 75 trees) one year ago. I haven’t had them picked yet and not sure how that works. I have a ton of questions…. Do you provide consultations for small grove owners too? Thanks!

    • Hello Charley,

      Given today’s high cost of water in De Luz, would you recommend starting an avocado grove? I have been told to anticipate a 5% increase in the cost of water each year.

      • Nick, Based on my experience and additionally the number of phone calls I receive from investors avocados is still a good deal. The caveat is you need to plant high density. More trees per acre cost more on the front end. You have to commit to annual pruning after year four. And overall you have to farm it correctly to produce enough fruit to pay for the water and make a profit. It is still doable. I will send you my contact info separately. Thanks, Charley

  33. Hi Charley,

    I’m looking at buying a house that has over 50 acres of avocados. I found this blog and would love to e-mail you more to discuss the whole operation. I don’t even know what to look at when it comes to avocados. Just want to pick your brain and I also read that you’ve talked about a managing company to help out the land?

    Thanks,

    Christopher

    • Christopher, Your prospective purchase sounds interesting. My company can help you. I will send you direct contact info separately. Charley

  34. Hi Charley, thanks for taking the time to put up the info on the blog. I write to you from Kenya. Is there any chance you have an info pack that you can share with prospective farmers? I know it might not be completely relevant as I am halfway across the world, but I’m certain it would be a huge help. Thanks

    • Richard, I suggest you go to the University of California Extension Service web site, ucan.org/sites/gardenweb/files/29079.pdf. Go to Avocado on the site. They have a pamphlet on growing avocados. It is oriented for a new grower. Just keep in mind it is focused on California. You will have to adjust as necessary. Thanks, Charley

  35. This is a different category of question/ comment.. I am searching the web to try and find a reliable distributor of avocados, preferably organic, for an upstart food enterpreneur business, that seeks to do justice for the land and the workers. Any recommendations?

    • Marla, I’m not quite clear what you are looking for. On the one hand I would say all of the California avocado packing houses are distributors of avocados. Most of them have an organic offering. On the other hand you may be looking for a wholesaler/distributer locally for your business. In either case I would suggest starting with the phone book or an on line search to get some contacts. Then a dialog would be appropriate to determine if they meet your criteria.

  36. I know that fertilization should not be done when avocado trees are blooming, as the fertilizer can cause the blooms to drop. When is the recommended month to begin fertilizing triple 15 this year in the Fallbrook area groves? Is late January too early? I’ve heard that it should be done when the weather warms up, and either before blooming begins, or after the fruit is set. Is there a month after the fruit has set that is safe for fertilization which will not cause the young fruit to also drop off?

    • Suzanne, Yes you can knock the flowers off with too much nitrogen during the bloom. With warmer weather the tree can take up the nitrogen more efficiently. I assume the material is being hand applied. You will just have to watch the trees and the weather. I have years where I delayed fertilizer application because of rain forecast. I was concerned that the material would be flushed below the root zone. Wish I had to consider that now. Rule of thumb is apply nitrogen in Feb and Jul. That being said look at the trees.

  37. I’ve read that the application of calcium nitrate can improve soil conditions in avocado groves which have decomposed granite soils, and helps offset the problem of high chlorides/salinity in Fallbrook PUD irrigation water. I was intending to use 5 lbs. of triple 15 fertilizer (low sodium) 3 times a year along with 3 lbs. of calcium nitrate applied separately in June and September. Do you concur with that?

    • Suzanne, Since I don’t know how old the tree are and have not seen the grove I can not concur with what you have described. It appears to be too much. The best approach for determining fertilizer requirements is to have a leaf analysis done which will tell you how much nutrient the trees have. With that information you can decide how much nutrient they need. I know of no process in the soil that would let calcium nitrate improve soil condition. It is often used to lower soil ph to maintain the optimum level ph. Neither have I heard of CN helping with high salinity,

  38. I have a 6+ acre avocado grove located NE of Fallbrook in an area of decomposed granite soil. I read in your blog that each mature avocado tree needs 450 gallons of water per week during the hot summer months, irrigated once per week for an average of 14 hours to achieve the 450 gallon requirement, and depending upon the emitter capacity. You’ve also said that by watering once a week the soil can dry out, which reduces the environment for root rot. I’ve also read from others that the tree roots are shallow, and may require more frequent irrigation during the hot weather than once a week. Do you still believe that the once a week irrigation is ok during hot weather, as long as the tree is getting 450 gallons of water per week? I intend to irrigate at night to decrease rapid evaporation during hot weather. I have used organic gypsum to decrease the chance of root rot. Is there a downside to using gypsum on a grove with my decomposed granite soil type?

    • Suzanne, Be careful about taking rules of thumb or guidelines as gospel. If the weather cause the trees to need more water when it is very hot, then give them more water before the week is over. I can remember times during extreme Santa Annas that the trees were going into wilt with the water running. If you want to be more precise you should investigate installing moisture sensing devices in your grove. They will tell you the moisture content in the soil so that you decide when to irrigate. Irrigating at night is better. As you said it reduces evaporation so the trees gets more of the water you apply. The only root rot prevention from gypsum application I can think of is improving soil drainage so the roots aren’t wet all the time. if you have good DG you are spending money for minimum cultural value. It is what I call a feel good.

  39. Charley,

    I am interested in getting started in avocado farming. I do not live in California or have any experience with agriculture in any way (college graduate with a degree in homeland security/ terrorism). I was wondering if there was a way to get into the business without buying a farm such as working for a grove management company or a cooperative.

    Much thanks.

    • Shaun, Working for a company in the avocado industry is a good way to get started. That being said it will require an individual search effort on your part to find the employment. I know of no central place to get the information. You might consider a classified ad in the County Farm Bureaus news letters. Good luck. Charley

  40. Charley,

    First off thank you for your service to our country in a uniform and an even bigger thanks for what you are doing here. i have an enormous amount of respect for you and the time you offer to others while seeking nothing in return, a true hero.

    Like the previous post have no farming experience, yet, but am I am attempting to purchase a 4 acre grove in the De Luz area. Thanks to your information so many of my questions have already been answered in reading your comments and studying all the info the UC Cooperative extension has. The grove is currently manged by Sierra Pacific farms.

    My intention is to use this to learn and then if things work out a much bigger grove in the future.

    I wonder if anybody with a grove this size will sell their fruit at local farmers markets. I am wondering if off-setting the high water cost with selling at a higher margin is a possibility. I would do this myself as I previously had a kettle corn operation at several local markets here where I live in LA. I would utilize vehicles I already own for transport to the markets.

    I look forward to speaking with you more in the future and hope you have a great New Year.

    Scott

    • Scott,
      Thanks for your complements. The four acres is a good size to learn. If you intend to do the work yourself you must accept it will require a lot of time. Yes you can sell the fruit at farmers markets. This also will require considerable time. The trees properly farmed will produce quantities that would require you attending a market almost every day. You can store the fruit on the tree, but there is a limit on how long. Good luck on your new venture. If you need help let me know. Charley

  41. Hi Charley,
    I have 2 Haas in my backyard that I planted about 10 years ago when we bought our new home in Alta Loma. They are fairly prolific trees and they both yield 200-300 fruit a year. Since I have a hard time consuming all of this fruit on my own, I thought about setting up a card table in my driveway and selling them to passersby (along with other fruit and citrus from our yard.) To your knowledge is this something that I can do spontaneously or do I need some kind of permit or other official authorization? Thanks, Roy

    • Roy, You are allowed by state law to sell what you produce on your land. You can’t go to a busy intersection but you can sell from your land. The only point you have to check is whether the City has an ordinance that forbids the sales activity or requires a City permit. I trust this helps. Let me know how it works out. Charley

  42. Hi Charley,

    I recently purchased 5 acres in De Luz and have about 300 avocado trees. I have no experience in avocado grove management. I enjoy going to the property but am limited in my ability to do much of the work because I live over an hour away. I am working with the grove manager that managed the grove for the previous owner. He was recommended by the seller but I sometimes wonder if I should trust his estimates on labor, fertilizer, weed control, pruning, picking, injection etc. I don’t have a good sense if he is overcharging or even using materials for his own grove. For starters, do you have average costs that can be used per tree for some of these items? Perhaps we can arrange a consultation so that I can be more informed about my specific grove situation. Please let me know. Thank you!

    • Tom, I don’t think of operating cost on a per tree basis. I normally think of the operating cost on a per acre basis. In today’s economy that is about $5000 to $6000 per acre per year. The main variable will be the water source well or district. I will send you contact info separately. Thanks, Charley

          • Mike, I am not sure what you mean by getting started. You didn’t say where the land is. If you mean just getting information to understand the scope of the project you can go to the University of California web site ucan.org/sites/gardenweb/files/29079.pdf. This will give you enough information to see what the sequence is in developing your project. After this if you have more questions get back to me. Thanks, Charley

      • Hi Charley,

        Great forum, a lot of useful information. We are thinking about buying a house with about 300 avocado trees on property. I heard that you can hire a grove managing company to do all the work (I am absolutely not familiar with avocado growing). Would you be able to recommend any of such companies, so that we could estimate the income from the grove?
        Thank you in advance.
        Kate

        • Kate, Congratulations on considering a property with avocados. Yes I can recommend a company, mine. That’s what we do. I will send you contact info separately. Charley

          • Dear Mr. Wolk:

            I have never posted on a site before. I am interested in your company (as set forth in the entry above)to manage an avocado grove in Ventura County. Would you please provide me the appropriate contact information so that we might have a quick chat to see if it’s what your looking for? Thank you!

          • Mary, I am located in Fallbrook in San Diego County. I would be able to help you. I would suggest calling the Ventura County Farm Bureau. They should be able to provide you with a list of Farm Mangers working up there.

  43. Hi Charley! I am currently trying to purchase a parcel of El Toro rootstock. These trees are 10 years old and located in the DeLuz area. I am curious of your opinion on this rootstock for this region. Thank you!

    • Margaret, Normally we talk about the variety of the avocado grove first then the root stock. Also I believe you may mean Torro Canyon root stock rather than El Torro. Most root stocks have unique characteristics in particular soils and micro climates. The Torro Canyon has done well provided you respond to its characteristics where it is planted. Charley

  44. Hi, I am thinking about buying a 20 acre avocado grove in Fallbrook, CA. I am just trying a new phase in life I suppose. I know zero about what it takes to own a successful avocado grove, What questions should I ask? I’m sure it will take a while just to get down the basics so, where should I start? Thanks in advance!

    • Mark, If you have a parcel you are interested in you should ask to see the production records from the packing house, the water bills from the water district, and the bills for the operational expenses. Many sellers will offer a P&L but the records are better. I would also suggest you go on line to the University of California Cooperative Extension web site. Dr. Bender the tropical fruit advisor is having an avocado growing school starting in Jan. There is a fee and the school last several Sat. I believe it would be valuable for someone just starting.

  45. Hi Charley,

    I am working a project about the movement of Haas Avocados from California to my local grocer in Atlanta, GA. Do you have any suggests where I can look up how the fruit is picked, packed, shipped and distributed?

    Thanks!

    • Marisha, I don’t know where you could look up how the fruit moves from California to Atlanta. So just let me explain the process to you. The growers either use their own employees or contact labor to harvest the avocados. They really aren’t picked but the stems are each cut by hand to get them off the tree. The fruit is put into large plastic bins which hold about 900 pounds. The bins are picked up by the packing house with a truck that has a crane on the truck. the packing houses are separate businesses. The packing house has packing lines that weigh the individual pieces of fruit and separates them by size. The fruit is hand packed into two layer lugs weighing 25 pounds. So it takes fewer pieces of larger fruit to make 25 pounds. This how the size numbers come about It takes 48 pieces to fill a lug but 70 pieces of smaller fruit. The packing house sells the fruit to the major retailers or wholesalers. The fruit goes to distribution centers around the country. The major retailers use their own equipment to get the fruit to their stores. The wholesalers distribute the fruit to independent retailers. Some fruit goes to restaurant suppliers who deliver the fruit to food service operators. This a simple explanation of the system. If you have additional questions let me know. Charley

  46. my name is Charles and i write from Nairobi,Kenya.I have in stock over 2 million grafted seedlings ready for sale.I will provide all necessary papers from the authorities to facilitate smooth entry to your country.
    Charles

    • Charles, Thanks for the information. I really not interested in getting plant material from off shore even if USDA would approve it. Just to save you some time I don’t believe any growers in California would want to try your trees. Thanks, Charley

      • Joseph, I have no seedlings. I did receive an offer some time back by someone who was selling seedlings. You may have interpreted that I had seedlings.

  47. Hi Charley! I recently came across your blog while researching on growing and selling avocados. My parents recently purchased land in Temecula with over hundreds of avocado trees. I believe the former owner had abandoned the land of trees and now my parents are trying to bring them back. My parents are not experienced with avocado growing and selling and so I have offered to step in and help them. I am still a college student living in Thousand Oaks but I would like to take over the burden from my parents. I just don’t know where to start. Researching online about different permits, licensing, etc is overwhelming. Can you please help me! Thank you!

    • Angela, I commend you for your efforts to help your parents. You have to be careful that you take on a job you will not be able to succeed. First you say that the previous owner had abandoned the trees. It may be that it is not economical to try to save them no matter how hard you and your parents work. You may just end up spending a lot of money and hard work. The only license required is to apply pesticides. My recommendation is for your parents to hire as a minimum a consultant or better a manager. That way they can participate without going crazy. I will send you my contact information separately. Charley

  48. Charley,

    We are looking to move to the De Luz area and buy property with Avocado trees. We have found several homes that we like but need help evaluating the orchards to make our decision. Would you be able to help us with this?

    Also, is there an appraiser that will appraise the value of the home and the orchard separately?

    Thank You

    • Bob, I personally don’t know of an appraiser who is licensed to appraise both the home and the grove. Most would give you the value of the total property. Which actually makes sense because normally you can’t buy them separately. I can evaluate the condition of the orchard. Also after you purchase a property I can help you assign the purchase price to the home and grove. You would need to do this because some of the price can be depreciated. I will send you contact info separately. Charley

      • Charley,

        I haven’t seen your contact information. Please send again. It may not have come through for some reason.

        The reason I had asked about the appraiser is that we are trying to do a 1031 exchange on the property.

        Thanks,

        Bob

        • Bob, I have sent the contact info to the email you have used here it came back as undeliverable. If there is another email send it to the blog. If not try calling 760 728 5176 during business hours on week days. Charley

  49. Hi Charley,
    I have a property in valley center( W. Lilac ). About 500 hass trees. Trees are 15 -20 yrs old. Here are my questions:
    — how often and for how many hours you would water ( irrigation system) the trees ( average for this season)
    — why dripping system is not working for Avos?
    — Are you aware of any state or fed program who may provide financial or other help to avo growers hurt from drought?
    — please send me your contact information and fees for site visit+ recommendation so I can use your expertise/ advises!
    — if possible, please email your respond to me.

    Thanks for great website!

    • Shawn, I really can’t answer your question about how long to run the irrigation because I don’t know what the flow rate is on the sprinklers. In the summer heat the trees need about 450 gal per week. The water is applied in one irrigation once a week.
      Drip didn’t work for avocados once they were started. The trees native environment is tropical forest. We are growing them in a desert. The wetting that came naturally wetted the entire area of the root zone. A typical dripper will wet an area under the dripper in a bell curve. So underneath the dripper you would get feeder root development that looked like a bowl of sprouts. Away from the dripper there would be no roots. The tree was not happy. Put them on drip you use less water and get less production
      All the talk about help for growers suffering from the drought is essentially that “talk.”
      I will send you my contact info separately. Thanks, Charley

  50. There is a lot of discussion about high density plantings. Doesn’t each plant require the same amount of water? (which is our largest expense) And what is considered high density planting ?

  51. Hi Charley, you absolutely have a great blog going here.
    My question is not directly related to profiting from Avocado but I hope you can still help me.
    I have about 8 trees in my back yard; a couple grown from unknown seeds; fruiting now and showing promise of good quality.
    Do you know of any Lab/University I can send some leaves to have them analyzed and determine true linage?

    Thank you.

    • Andrei, I know of no entity that can identify the varieties you have. I can tell you that the trees grown from seed are not a commercial variety. They are big seedlings. Commercial avocados must be grafted. If they have fruit you are lucky. The seedling will revert to its parent. Some times they have fruit some times not. Some times the fruit is edible some times not. I would just enjoy the trees for what they are. Charley

    • Andrei, I know of no entity that can identify the varieties you have. I can tell you that the trees grown from seed are not a commercial variety. They are big seedlings. Commercial avocados must be grafted. If they have fruit you are lucky. The seedling will revert to its parent. Some times they have fruit some times not. Some times the fruit is edible some times not. I would just enjoy the trees for what they are. Charley

  52. Hi Charley,
    I bought a house in Ventura county that had a number of productive avocado trees. I love avocados, and always looked forward to the having my personal share along with the ability to share with friends and family. The trees have stopped producing, and two of them died, even though I had a tree service trim and deep feed them. I am concerned about maintaining the health of the others, but don’t know what issues there might be that led to these changes. I’d like to bring someone to the property to take a look at the trees, irrigation, etc. How do I find someone knowledgeable who can come here and give me reliable advice to help my trees?

    • Kevin, I’m sorry you are having problems. I would call the Farm Bureau or check the yellow pages for Ag consultants. You need someone local. They may be familiar with the area and can help you over the phone. Generally speaking the biggest problem with back yard trees is that they are not given enough water. Often just getting what the lawn gets. Your local person will be able to evaluate that. Thanks, Charley

  53. Hi, I’m currently considering putting an offer on a property in sd county.. It’s a 20 acre parcel with very healthy certified organic trees on a nice gentle hillside with new roads graded through out. Fruit is currently on the trees though it is still fairly small at this time of the year.. My question to you is how I can conserve water?! It’s my main concern as water costs are at a high! I’d appreciate any insight on water conservation as well as a consultation on possibly a crash coarse to land management and/or a cost effective harvest method! Thanks I look farwRd to hearing from you.

    • Stephen, Water is about 75% of the cost of avocado production. When you “conserve” water you reduce production. The effort should be on being efficient. The Resource Conservation district can evaluate the system and make recommendations for improving efficiency. You can also lower irrigation costs by investing in a well. Currently all avocados in California are harvested by hand. Cost effective harvesting is accomplished by the skill and experience of the supervisor and laborers. I will send you contact information on consultation separately. Charley

  54. Mr. Wolk, thank you for the fabulous forum. I’ve really enjoyed reading your answers and educating myself via the many sources you recommended. I’m considering purchasing an 10 acre Avocado farm in Somis. Is there someone you can recommend up here that I can hire to inspect it? There is no house on the property. But I’m imagining paying someone to inspect the orchard, equipment, trees, soil, etc. the same way I would pay a house inspector. How can I find an avocado expert for hire?

    • Rob, I would first try the yellow pages for listings of grove managers and ag consultants. If you are not satisfied with the results, call the County Farm Bureau and ask for their recommendation. One of these should put you in touch with qualified help. Charley

    • We just bought 7.5 acre avo ranch In Somis. A friend of our works for mission avocado in Santa Paula. You can contact them and they will send someone out to survey your trees and system and give you recommendations.

  55. hi Charlie! I love the forum…very informative. my question is about gopher and squirrel control. how much money per acre on average, if any, is spent on gopher control and how much on squirrel control? I have a safe, effective, environmentally friendly and very economical way to control gophers. I have done thousands of services for residential and commercial properties and would like to offer my services to the grove and vineyard industry. if you have any input I would love to hear it and if you would like more information please email me and I will send you my brochure. the gopher control is using a special machine that injects compressed carbon monoxide into the tunnels and is designed for large fields and the agricultural industry. I have an ag license through the department of pesticide regulation for this type of work.
    thank you so much for your consideration and I have plans to buy avocado groves in the future and would love to work with you when the time comes.
    david

    • David, As a percentage of the cost of production vertebrate pest con troll is almost insignificant. Gopher control is most critical in a new planting. As the trees mature the gophers don’t like the leaf cover in an avocado orchard. The squirrel problem comes and goes. I have never been able to find a common denominator. It sounds like your device has more application to landscape because of the increasing restrictions on what can be used on residential properties. Keep in touch when you are ready to acquire the avocado grove. Charley

  56. My wife & I just purchased an avocado orchard in De Luz. Some of the trees in the planting have been cut down & I want to replace them with new trees. Should I dig out the old trunk or just plant the new trees next to it? Where can I purchase around 100 avocado trees & what should I expect to pay per tree? Also is there a better rootstock than others to use in the area or the local nurseries are only supplying the newer/appropriate rootstocks?

    • Brandon, First yes you can plant the tree next to the old stump. That being said there are other considerations. First why was the previous tree cut down? Also it you plant a new tree among mature trees the new tree will have to compete especially for sunlight. If it doesn’t have space it will grow like a bean stalk and never develop caliper on the trunk. All the energy will go to reaching for sunlight. The current preferred rootstock is Dousa. I would suggest you go to the local nurseries first. You should ask what root stock they are using and whether the trees are clonal are conventional propagation. Good luck on your endeavor. Charley

      • Thanks Charley !!! Also is there a preferred time of year to plant out new trees … Spring? Is there any benefit to wait or is now still OK?

        Some of the trees that were cut down are in the front of the plantings so light is not an issue for new trees. Also there are some open spaces that I thought why not plant some more trees. The irrigation lines are already in place (the old owner did not want to spend the money).

  57. Hi Charlie,

    I’m at 4641 Ramona Drive and have Oranges, Lemons, Avo’s and several White Sapota trees. I need to find someone to pick these and sell them… The Sapotas are overloaded with fruit now as are the oranges and lemons. Avo’s have died because of the low property level and the freeze’s… Do you have any recommendations who might be the right company for this?

    Thanks and have a super day!

    Drew Palenscar
    Cell 760-710-1775

    • Drew, You have what is commonly called a family fruit orchard. While it is more fruit than yyou can eat or give to friends it is really not enough for commercial harvesting. Probably the only recourse is to get the certification to sell at Farmer’s Markets and sell the fruit there. Sorry, Charley

  58. Hi Charley,
    My family owns some land in the De Luz area, around 5 acres. Much of the property is quite steep, so maybe 2 or 3 would be good for planting. Any idea what planting avocado trees costs upfront and how long before the trees would produce fruit? Is this something your company offers or do you mostly deal with established growers? Thanks for the info!

    • Kevin, Steep is in the eyes of the beholder. The general comment would be that as you increase the slope you increase the requirement for more grading and roads. A planning number for planting a high density orchard is between $25,000.00 to $30,000.00 per acre. Some variables could make the number go either up or down. I have planted trees with fruit on them. We normally talk about the time to get commercial production. I define commercial production to be enough fruit to require a harvesting crew and have the fruit go to a packing house. This is usually four to five years. The time is impacted by what time of year the trees are planted and how good the cultural care given to them. The years leading up to the commercial production would give you plenty of fruit for yourself and your friends. Yes we do development work. I will send you contact info separately. Charley

    • Hi Charley,

      My husband and I are a young, 60ish couple and retired. We are considering buying a home in Fallbrook with 2 to 5 acres of avao trees. We know nothing except what I have just read in your website. Apparently we could possibly make money on these acres. We are excited at the prospect! Could you please tell us basically what to look for in choosing a grove(good trees, type of avacadoes, etc) and send us your consultation information?

      Thank you and Holy Guacamole!

      • Rama, What to look for in the avocado grove would require a lot of space. Many of the points would require a basic level of knowledge to understand what to look for. I would suggest you look for the home that pleases you and that has some acreage planted or unplanted. I can help you evaluate the trees or the opportunity to plant new trees. Avocados farm correctly will make money. You also need to consider the amount of work if you are retiring. I will send you my contact info separately. Charley

        • Charley,

          I too am in a similar situation whereby at 66 I’m looking at buying a beautiful house that has 370 (350 Hass and 20 Pinkerton) avocado trees on the property. I’m interested in finding out about how to make money with them, amount of work necessary, etc.
          Thanks for your help.
          Sincerely,
          Ron Lydick

          • Ron, You didn’t say where you are looking at this house. It looks like this property has about four planted acres. Also I have no idea what the condition of the trees are. Here are a couple of points that you should be aware of: 75% of the cost of production of avocados is water; you have to be producing at least 10,000 pounds per acre to stay in business. My advice on how much work is simple. First you have to develop the knowledge to do the work. My suggestion is to go to the University of California Extension site to begin your quest for information. Secondly you must commit to devoting a large part of your time to do the work, whether that is physically doing the work or supervising who may have hired. Good luck on your project. Charley

  59. Hello Charley,

    I am a young man that has never been in agriculture but has a desire to learn more and find out if it is the life for me. I am 32 married, with a 1.5 yr old and dog living in Ventura County. There are many Lemon and Avocado orchards and packing houses in our area. How do I learn more about the farming process and what profit margins are like in my area. Where does one go for financing the cost of the land and operations?

    • Chad, Probably the first step would be to visit the various packing houses to see if someone there would be willing to take the time to talk to you. They could give you some of the general parameters of their product and the margins. You could also contact the farm management companies in the area and ask the same questions. Commercial banks generally will not lend money on land or ag operations. Production Credit a government supported institution would be the lender of choice. This ought to give you enough to get started. Charley

  60. Hi Charley,
    We have recently purchased an avocado farm in the San Diego area and are looking for someone to manage the property on our behalf.
    Can you assist us on this?
    Bruce

        • Samuel, I suppose if I were off to do what you have chosen, I would make some basic decisions before starting. If they are obvious I apologize. The first one is how much capital is available for this effort. You should decide what you are comfortable with in allocating your capital to home and grove. Even though you buy the property as one unit somewhere in there is an allocation to home and grove. You should decide if you intend to farm it or are you going to hire some one to manage it for you. Either way you will need to decide how much you are able to allocate to operating the orchard. The grove is trees so even if there is a bad year for what ever reason the trees still have to be cared for the following year. Obviously you will need to find a competent realtor who has a working knowledge of agriculture. Most know about the houses. Hope this helps. Charley

  61. Hi Charley,
    Quick question, I have been looking at land and groves in the Fallbrook & De Luz area. Can you give me an idea of how much the cost would be to have a well installed?

    • Bill, This is an often asked question. Wells in this area have to be very deep at least 1000 feet. A well is more than just a hole in the ground. Obviously it requires an adequate pump, but also the control panel, motor protection. Additionally because of the capacity of the well and the elevation to move the water after you get the water to the surface it may also require a tank and booster pump. I recommend that thinking about a well you need to initially budget $40.000.00. After a site evaluation the number can be refined. Let me know if you acquire a property and I can help you get the well. Thanks, Charley

  62. Hi Charley,
    I saw some land in Bonsall/Vista area in SD for sale that has a large grove of avocados on it. Would it be possible/profitable to lease the grove to a larger existing grower? At least enough to pay for the cost of the farming and maybe the mortgage? Would larger established avocado growers be interested in something like this? IS this common practice?

    Thank you,
    Michael

    • Michael, Leasing avocado groves is a tough topic to address. Like any lease it has to work for both parties. To the best of my knowledge for example there is no standard lease. I believe the grove would have to be very profitable for it to provide income to two parties and pay a mortgage. Owners seeking leases is typically driven by the desire to eliminate or shift cash flow requirements. The true test would be to offer the grove for lease and see if you get any takers. Thanks, Charley

  63. How much is the annual fruit worth for a mature avocado tree in the Valley Center area of San Diego County? Thanks, John

    • John, We never think of the value of fruit for a tree. Normally fruit value is considered on a per acre basis. The amount of fruit on a tree will vary. The value will also vary based not only on the amount of fruit, but also on the size of the fruit and the quality The grower is paid by the pound so the value will also depend on the market. There is no simple answer to your question. Given the variables described above the value for the fruit from an acre in Valley Center could be from $5000.00 to $15000.00. Hope this helps. Charley

  64. Hi Charley, A buddy of mine and I are interested in an investment property in Bonsall California. The property has about 13 acres of Haas groves on it. It says that it is already well established farm producing about 150K lbs a year. We don’t know anything about this subject and I’ve been having a hard time finding info on the web doing regular old internet searches. My question is do you think that its making a profit at this point based on current conditions here in North San Diego County? Do you think it would at least pay for itself? I ask because if not, we wouldn’t hesitate to remove the majority of the trees for development or switching crop. Thanks for your time!

    • Tim, The production of 150k lbs. per is excellent. So good you should ask the seller to provide the pack outs from the packing house. They are not required to do that. If they don’t, then the productions numbers become suspect. You can also check the water bills for reasonableness. If it was producing those numbers for a number of years it should be profitable and paying it way operationally. Paying the debt would depend on the deal. I trust this will help in your decision. I will send you contact information should you desire consulting in your investment analysis. Good luck on your investments. Charley

  65. Charley

    Have you heard of any avacado farms in Watsonville area ? What about production farm up there?

    Lost in santa cruz

    • Mike, I know of no commercial productions up there. Bottom line is the weather is not suitable. Someone may have a back yard tree.

    • Yogi, As long as the weather in India is suitable sure it will grow. It is too cold or too hot it would be tough. Also I don’t know how you are going to get the tree into India. If you plan on growing the tree from a seed it won’t give you varietal fruit. So planting a Hass seed that grows a tree won’t give you Hass fruit. The seedling has to be grafted. Good luck on your project. Charley

  66. Dear Mr.Charley Wolk,
    I am planning to take some avocado seed to back home in Bangladesh (south Asia) to grow fruit bearing tree. Now, my question is, will the tree product fruit if its from seed. please advise. thank you

    • Rob, No the avocado will not produce commercial fruit from a tree grown from a seed. It might produce some sort of fruit related to its original root stock. For example if you plant a Hass avocado seed you will not get a tree that produces Hass avocados. After the seedling grows you have to graft varietal wood to the seedling. Thanks, Charley

  67. Excellent info, Charley. Appreciate your expertise.

    Quick question: Recognizing that there are many variables involved, do you have any way of estimating margins for an area that is more suitable for avocado growth from a climate and resources standpoint (i.e. abundant water supply, inexpensive labor, established farm and practices – Central Mexico, actually)? I’ve seen the $1500-$2000 per acre margin number quoted a few times, so I’m just trying to get a little color on how wide those margins can get in a sort of perfect storm. Thanks a lot.

    • Hoda, Your question is often asked. Unfortunately there is no standard answer. You have to investigate how much is being paid for fruit in that area. By estimating typical cost to operate you can calculate the range of the margins. Charley

      • Hi Charley,

        We recently purchased a home in Valley Center and are interested in having you visit our site. Supposedly we have about 90 Haas avocado trees. Your advice on the health of the trees, orchard maintenance and irrigation schemes are things we can greatly benefit from. Thanks very much in advance. OOH RAH. Mike

  68. Hi Charley,

    A quick question: where can I obtain graft limbs from a fruit-bearing tree to graft to my young trees that were grown from seeds? They’re approximately 7 ft. tall now, with a 1″ trunk. I have quite a grove of them (3), so this is not for profit, just for the fun of growing fruit-bearing trees. Thanks!

    • Scott, I don’t know where you are so my answer may not work. Ask your neighbor if they would let you cut some bud wood from their trees. You should do some research on the optimum wood. Bud wood selection might be the most critical step in grafting. If there are no trees nearby, the next alternative would be to contact an avocado nursery and ask them to sell you some bud wood and send it to you. Good luck. Charley

  69. Good morning Charley,

    We contacted you a few months ago with a question on labour productivity benchmarks and, since your answer proved most helpful, we are keen to hear your opinion on the following matter:

    We are currently in the process of deciding which density (more specifically the distance between rows) to opt for in our new farm. We had all along planned to have a distance of 5.5 meters between each row but we are repeatedly being advised that this is too tight, and that we should opt for 6 meters instead – the argument being that 5.5 meters is too tight for a tractor to navigate properly between adult trees, that pruning costs would be increased, but also that 5.5 meters would not allow enough light to enter the bottom of the trees, and the trees’ growth/productivity would therefore be hindered in the long run (especially considering that part of the land is on a very mild north-facing slope).

    Although we are only talking about half a meter, this small increase in the distance between rows would reduce the number of trees that we can plant by approximately 900, since we are talking about a 50 acre plot of land. We are therefore extremely keen to establish whether these opinions are well founded, and look forward to hearing your point of view.

    Many thanks,
    Tanya

  70. hi charles.

    i live in Samoa which is in the pacific. i turn 21 this year. and i am very interested in avocado farming . i have just appointed 30acres of land and i am not sure where to start. as this will be my first project. would really like to learn and gather as much info as i can. as i am looking into producing avocado oil and exporting it to overseas. but that is in the near future. first i need to know the basics what to cover with my budget. and what sort of budget am i looking at.please…

    • Luana, Your project sounds very interesting. You need to know your project is going to be very complicated. I would first go online to the University of California web site. There is some info you can down load and other info in pamphlet form you can order. I don’t know how you are going to get enough trees for 30 acres into Samoa. Just the permits may be overwhelming. Assume all that gets done an avocado oil operation requires additional equipment. You will also need to investigate the restrictions to shipping the oil to other countries. Bottom line I suggest you do a lot of research before you spend money. Good luck. Charley

    • Hi Luana
      This is interesting as I was also looking at some reading info on avocado farming in Samoa,I would love to know how you are getting along as I might have some contacts for you,all the best

  71. I’m looking at a house on a 1.75 acre lot that could potentially be subdivided. The property is in the San Diego area. On the spare bit of land away from the house is approximately 25 mature avocado trees. I’m wondering what my options are for these trees. Could I perhaps lease them to someone else in the area who can farm/harvest them? What could I expect to get dollar wise for that lease? Is 25 trees far too small an operation to be of interest to anyone? Is it worth me keeping the trees and selling the fruit at my gate or is that very labor intensive for that many trees? Any suggestions?

    • John, I doubt that anyone would be willing to lease 25 trees. Might find a neighbor or a restaurant owner who would do it. You would have to sort out paying for the water. If you get a taker on the lease, it would probably be a wash. They provide the care and get the fruit. I suppose “labor intensive” is in the eyes of the beholder. Growing the fruit and selling at your gate could be fun and exciting or an unwanted burden. Depends on your attitude. I guess I would explore getting someone to care for the trees. If that fails, then try doing it yourself. You should try for at least a year. Good luck. Charley

      • Charley, I came upon your website by searching for information that may assist us in leasing/purchasing about 2 acres in Fallbrook. The property has a total of about 90 trees. I’ve been told that there are about 14 lime trees, 30 macadamia trees and 14 producing avocados with various other fruit trees. My question is if it would be financially feasible for a tenant to water and care for these trees in hopes of gaining any potential profit? Many of the avos have a common disease and I am wondering if they should be removed so as not to spread to healthy trees. Considering the drought and coast of water (there is not a well on the property), my question is if we should just water to keep the healthy trees alive and leave the sick trees alone. We don’t have the financial resources to nurture and water sick trees. It’s my understanding that water costs is in the neighborhood of about $300+ per month. That’s a lot of water for a tenant to pay. I do know that the trees are from the 1940’s and that the original owners became incapable to caring for them. The current owners bought the property about 2 years ago and are moving out of state. The big question is if we are biting off more than we can chew. The property is located on Sunset Grove Rd in Fallbrook. Thank you for your time and consideration.

        • Sharon, Over the years my experience has been that arrangements with tenants for grove care don’t work. Given the location and the trees you describe it will be a lot of hard work and expense to get it to pay it’s way. Most tenants aren’t going to do that. If a tenant arrangement is necessary to make the deal work, I believe you should consider different alternatives. Charley

      • Hi Charley. Not sure how to post a question but the previous is kind of on line. We are looking at purchasing a home on 4 acres with 120 producing trees;105 Haas the rest Fuerte and 1 bacon avocado.

        From reading your blog it appears to make a profit is a challenge however for us breaking even is ok (we love avocados) and it could be fun to do some work as well as demand appears to be only increasing. We are going to consider a well as we want this for ourselves anyway. The location is in Valley Center. What questions should we ask? They have offered for us to see the financials and we will be doing that this week of July 7. Thanks for you insights.

        • Gary, Sorry not to be timely. Just not enough hours in the day. You should be able to get additional information this week. I don’t know what financials are being offered. You would want to see the packing house pack out with the dollars paid for multiple years. The more years the better. One year doesn’t tell you much. Also a print out from the water district for the water expense will tell you a lot. A well is always a good idea. For a small parcel it takes a while to amortize the cost of the well. The tree count indicates that less than half of the land is planted. You didn’t comment on what your current situation is. You need to know farming even this small parcel by yourself requires a significant time commitment. Thanks, Charley

  72. Hello Charley, I’m very impressed with the Avocado super fruit. I live in Orlando Florida, and want to plant many cold hardy Avocado trees in my back yard as well as several friends and neighbors backyards to reduce overhead, and try to create a sustainable model as a hobby. I know that I”m not a very traditional person, but please work with me. If that succeeds, then I can plant many more Avocado trees and have a good time with them. Orlando doesn’t usually drop below 30 degrees, but in 1985, the coldest day of the year reached a low of 19 degrees, so that’s the major thing I’m concerned about for now. I’ve done lots of research, but after reading your website, I realize that your history with Avocados is very impressive, so hopefully I can get a tip or two from you.
    Thanks, and I really appreciate your valuable website.

    • Vernon, I remember the cold damage in the 80’s. I thought it was 84. I was in Orlando for the American Farm Bureau annual meeting. I couldn’t believe the damage. Disney World was replanting almost all of the landscape. That being said if it goes that long before another frost that is a reasonable risk. You can plant the avocados as I have said frequently in replying to others plant them on a mound not in a basin. I would suggest you stick with the West Indian varieties grown in Florida. They will do better. They are being grown commercially in Florida. They should also be easier to purchase. The Hass variety grown in California may not do well in Orlando. It might be too wet. Besides I don’t know if you could get any shipped to you. Good luck on your endeavor. Charley

      • Hello charlie,

        I am interested in buying a hectare of land in mexico with water on the land, and planting avocados, the land needs clearing, but the people in the area work on average for 15 dollars a day…if the land only costs 15000 and the water is free and labor is cheap, would it be possible to make this into a profitable business and how much would that increase the value of the land…thank you

        • Kevin, I don’t know where the land is located. You need to decide how and where you will sell the fruit. If it going to a packing house you need to find out where they are and whether they will pick up the fruit or will you have to deliver it. It looks like you have only examined water and labor cost. You also have to investigate the cost of irrigation material, fertilizer, and other cultural cost. You have to see what is paid for the fruit and compare it to the cost to operate. I have no idea what the improvement would add to the value of the land. If there are other orchards in the area you could make your own comparison of the value of orchards compared to bare land. Charley

  73. Hi Charley,
    Thanks for the information on Avacado’s
    I wanted to get a feel of how much would it cost for initial set up of Avacado grove per acre assuming that the trees will be planted on a flat surface and I choose your company to do the turn key development
    Currently I’m looking to buy land (> 20 acres)
    Clearing
    Irrigation design and installation
    Ordering trees and having them planted

    How much would be the yearly cost for fertilizers and pruning?

    Thanks,
    Sri

    • Sri, Without looking at the land I suggest to use $25000.00 per acre to go from bare land to a planted avocado grove. Variables that will effect this estimate is the slope of the land and the density chosen. There is more to farming the orchard than fertilizer and pruning. Most important is the cost of water. Another way to look at it the cost to operate will be about $5000.00 t0 $6500.00 per acre per year. Biggest variable will be the source of the water. I will send you my contact information today. Charley

  74. Couple of ??’s Great site.
    1.Would it make since for me lease with option to buy or owner finance then upgrade an existing 20 acre grove that produced 160k lbs last yr, planted 20X15 by trimming down the canopy to 10′, culling and then transplant new trees into the existing tree gaps, say at 7′ and 10’?

    I turn 27 this summer, this will be the first time I will be building for myself instead of somebody else so to speak..

    When I first viewed the property 160k seemed like huge production for the grove but now that I am to the bottom of your site it is apparent that the grove could have produced 200k on up and that HD planting could get me towards 15k an acre or 300k lbs maybe on a good year say 5 or so years from now.

    2. Will I hurt badly the existing trees by transplanting babies into the spaces between them and nurturing them for the time needed till they fruit like the rest of the grove?

    Looking at property around fallbrook/deluz, some turn-key some are in need of revitalization and more.

    We are going to want your services at some point here over the next couple of months before we make any final move.

    thanks

    • Bill, Leasing with an option to buy or buying outright are viable options. I really can’t answer the question without seeing the deal. You must realize that lowering the trees and inter planting occurs over time. You can’t add the new trees until you get all the trees down. When you add the trees you will have to wait for them to come into commercial production. While you are waiting you will have to prune the old trees every year. Your strategy is spot on just remember to plan the cash flow. Adding the new trees will have no bad effect on the existing trees. I will send you my contact information today. Charley

      • Ted, The diseases and pest are not geographic specific. The general information will introduce you to the few problems we have. Charley

    • Ted, I believe you have to use a number of resource to learn about avocado farming from publications. The reference you cited is specific for Ventura County. Everything would not apply to De Luz. The climate is very different. You should find general references on the Cooperative Extension. There is also information on the California Avocado Commission’s web site in the grower section. There are other sites with more information on specific items in growing avocados. I would start with the Extension general pamphlet. Charley

  75. Hi Charles,

    Me again. Thank you for your email address and I will use it one day, I hope sooner better.

    I have some more basic questions for you if I may:

    1/ How to measure or calculate a size of tree to gallon?
    2/ What difference is between Grafting and Propagation? Anything to do with the cost (time consumed?) or quality of a tree?
    3/ Is a Well controlled of its water usage by a local government?
    4/ What is the most possible density of Avocado tree planted per acre-150 trees?
    5/ I learned that an Avocado tree starts bearing fruits by 10 years old from planting, and the maximum quantity could be at its 15 years old. So Pruning a tree means because its quantity starts dropping? Or simply make a well re-arrangement?
    6/ Home Depot sells an Avocado tree about one foot height for $25. Having someone to graft an Avocado tree (with any root stock) suppose to be much less, can it be under $15 for 500, 1000 and more trees? I do not care any method of Grafting.

    Thanks again of your expertise and Best regards,

  76. Hello Charley,

    Thank you for your time in advance.
    I have been interested for years in avocado farming but have zero actual experience. In one of your responses you have highlighted that you do consulting services. Would I be able to utilize your services by asking more in depth questions to see if my background can be applied to this interest?
    Thank you again Charley.
    Tim

  77. Hi Charley,

    I read through your blog. Very interesting and a lot of good information. After getting all the numbers, it dose not make economic sense to be an avocado grower. To start you need $22000.00 to plant each acre then $5000-$6000 per year for four years before the commercial production. The total cost is about $42000.00 and then we can make $3000 per year. It will take 14 years to get the investment paid back? Am I wrong? I am looking forward to your comments cause I have a big interest in being a farmer and live on the land.

    Thanks,
    Larry

    • Larry, I understand your concern. I believe it is caused by not using the numbers accurately. You used $5000.00 per acre to operate and had a $3000.00 net. First concept is that $3000.00 per acre net is really good. Where you have not been accurate is in the cost to develop. The $22,000.00 to develop is the cost for a high density planting. That cost enables you to have more trees per acre and when farmed correctly gives you more fruit per acre and therefore more money. You could easily double your net. Whether this makes you more comfortable or not only you can answer. Let me know if you want more info. Charley

  78. Hi Charley,
    Great web info on your site. Thank you.
    I am interested in getting 5 acre land with avocados in Temecula De Luz area. It seems like it has not been watered for at least 2 to 3 years. Still producing some fruit but small and look absolutely dry and no leave. Neighbor’s well managed land producing nice avocados.

    There is no record from the previous owner to know how old the avocados are, and how the irrgation was done and other info. It is in the mid-steep hillside, so that may cost extra for harvesting (from what I learned from your page).
    Wondering if it is worth to buy this land to recover the plant knowing the cost of water is high.
    What is the amount of water needed for 1 acre? I am assuming it will be about $3500 to $4000 per acre.
    Would you give me your contact info please.
    Thank you

    • Amy, Tough question to answer without looking at the orchard. The general comment would be that is probably salvageable. The bigger question is it worth it. If you do something bad to the trees for one year, you can’t do good for the trees for one year and get back to where you would have been if the trees had been cared for. So if the water has been off for three years, a better strategy would be to take the trees out and start over with a high density planting. It will cost more on the front end but you could be more confident of the future. Your estimate for water cost per acre are reasonable. I’ll send you my office contact. Thanks, Charley

    • Hi Charley,

      I wish to ask your expertise.

      1/ Is it a fair price for a mature avocado tree, minimum 500 trees to buy the least?
      2/ How can tell age range of an avocado tree?
      3/ What kind of important equipments (list 3) a grower for profit must have in order to save money/time from planting to harvesting.
      4/ How to compensate your expertise if I have more questions?

      Thank you.
      Paul

      • Paul, I can read your first question two ways. You may be asking for the cost to buy a mature avocado orchard with about 500 trees. Those prices are variable and are influence by factors other than the trees. Location is the obvious factor that influences price. If you are talking about buying trees that is different. First you can’t buy a mature avocado tree. You would be buying a grafted seedling. Those prices vary from $20.00 to $37.00. This depends on the variety, the root stock, and the method of propagation. Determining the age of the tree is mostly done by experience. I know of no easily available device that can measure the age of the tree. The equipment required is basic hand tools in the early stages. Later depending on you cultural practices you may need a ladder for harvesting. If there are requirements for tractors or trenchers it is better to just rent what you need at the time. I will send you and email for contacting me for consultation. Charley

  79. Charley,

    I have a few questions, first…is it possible to grow in Northern CA in Morgan Hill? You also mentioned the annual cost to run an orchard is $5500-$6500 per acre, what is included in those costs? And lastly, I am in need of your services, consulting, advice etc. I was wondering if you could please email me at your earliest convenience.

    Thanks,
    Mick

    • Mick, I believe most of the areas in Northern CA get too cold in the winter. You may get lucky and avoid damage to the trees but eventually the cold will get you. The annual per acre cost to run an orchard include: management, water, fertilizer, harvesting, irrigation labor, and cultural tasks.
      I am sending the email to contact my office separately. Thanks, Charley

  80. Good afternoon Charley,
    We are avocado growers in the South of Portugal (currently producing 70 acres, and recently acquired a further 50 acres of raw land). We have been trying for some time now to measure our labor productivity levels against industry benchmarks. Other than the production costs studies undertaken and published by the University of California, we are finding it very difficult to source other business studies and data. More specifically, we are seeking the following information:
    – average time to prune (per person, per acre)
    – average time to pick fruit (per person, per acre)
    – average time to spread fertilizer (per person, per acre)
    – average time for maintenance (per person, per acre)
    – average time to control weeds with strimmer (per person, per acre)
    – average time to plant (per person, per acre)
    Would you be able able to provide us with some insight into these statistics?
    Many thanks,
    Tanya

    • Tanya, I believe you are asking unanswerable questions. Let me comment further. First all the questions you ask have variable conditions for example taking them in order: how high are the trees?, how much fruit is on the trees?, how steep is the orchard?, what maintenance?, how high are the weeds?, how many trees per acre? You should also realize that an average is the worst measure of anything. You assume the element measured cluster around the average. It could be that the average comes from very high measures and very low measures. Then the average misleads you. I also believe that in this case seeking a number on a per acre basis is not the best measure. I believe a smaller unit is better. I assume you are seeking a method to compare the efficiency of you labor force or to determine a method of setting wage rates. Here are my suggestions. Create your own comparison. Assign two crews to do the same task in similar circumstances and compare how much they accomplish. Rotate some of the men on the crews and have them do the same task again and compare. Then change the task and repeat the process. This will eventually give you a measure. It will also make your labor force realize you are evaluating them. Some times this alone will increase competition and increased productivity. Good luck, Charley

  81. Hello Charlie,
    I am looking into purchasing land currently for sale in east Ojai. Its on the bench facing south and currently composed of chapparal on fairly steep slopes that extend up into the Los Padres NF. There are avocado orchards on adjacent property. There is runoff from the mountains above though the stream has been dry during the past 2 seasons (apparently for the first time in quite a few years). I’m not sure whether I could access that water (uncertain of the laws). The property has a shared well, but I am certain I would need to drill a new one if I put in an orchard. There’s space for 30+ acres of avocados. Lots of work and expense I know. Generally speaking would you assume $25K/acre to get this going? I’ll confess, I’m a newbee. Moving down from Idaho potato country where I grow raspberries.

    • David, You have several questions. I will answer them in a decision process not necessarily the way you ask them. Fairly steep is actually in the eyes of the beholder. The trees will be happy on a slope because they all get more sun than trees planted on flat land. The key is to provide adequate roads so that you can farm it efficiently. You pay and pay if at harvest the fruit has to be carried longer distances to get to bins. Especially bad if it has to be carried up hill. Using the water from the stream involves a riparian water right. Unfortunately to use it would probably involve some damning to get a forebay to draw the water. The current environmental laws would probably prohibit the damn. I believe the $25k/acre would be in the ball park to develop a high density avocado orchard. I do not believe you could get the well included in that figure. I trust this will help. If you have additional questions, let me know. Thanks, Charley

  82. Hello charly, I have about 500 avocado trees in Ramona. I don’t buy water. My well does 80 gallons per minute but its got a lot of minerals. I have someone to build me a filter so my question is do I only filter out the chlorides? or what else should I take out? thank u.

    • Vince, You are on the horns of a dilemma. It’s fortunate that you have an 80 gallons per minute well. You really can’t decide what to take out of the water until you have it tested to see what is in the water. The bad news is that I know of no filter that can take the chlorides out of the water. If so there wouldn’t be chlorides in the district water. The only workable solution is reverse osmosis. I am not aware of any units geared down to a small operation. Additionally once you remove the salt you have to dispose of it. That may be more difficult and expensive than removing it from the water. Good luck. Charley

  83. Charley, I live in NY and super market avocados sell for about 1$ to 1.50 $ each. I have some land, could I grow avocados in large greenhouses in NY and make a profit? hydroponics? LED lighting? Thank you, Scott

    • Scott, I can’t visualize how you could do that. The avocado grows on a tree. So you would need a lot of green house to get enough trees to get commercial production. I don’t know of anyone who have grown trees hydroponically. The tree’s flowers also have to be pollinated. I don’t know if bees would be fully active in a green house. Should never say it can’t be done but it looks like it would be expensive without a high confidence of success. Charley

  84. Hello Charlie, am in the process of buying 94 acres (approx 60 in avos) in your area currently on Rainbow Water District water. Would like to see your consulting agreement and recommendations for well drillers. I have seen tons of holes punched beyond 800′ but usually if viable water is going to be found it is 300-600′. Your take? Any experience with EcoFlow devices? Opinion? I have looked at RO but it doesn’t seem to be viable. Your take? I believe that if I can get production to 80 acres the grove justifies 2 full time employees for maintenance and to manage grove myself with consulting service rather than the current Grove Management contract. Thoughts on enterprise viability scale? I can give more details on grove location via direct email.

    • John, Your pending investment sounds interesting. I will send you information about my consulting. For now let me answer a few of your questions. The geology in this County is unique. The water is between plates rather than being in a big underground lake. If you get water at 300 feet around hear you are getting surface water drainage. My advice to those investing in a well is drill to at least 1000 feet even if you get water at a lesser depth. I have not used EcoFlow devices. I know others who have and they are pleased with the results. RO is used to take the salt out of the water. It is effective but expensive. The challenge is disposing of the salt brine from the desalinization of the water. Hiring two employees makes sense if you are there daily to supervise them and you have acquired the technical knowledge to guide them. If not the chance of hiring laborers who are knowledgeable and reliable is difficult at best. You will also take on the expense of payroll, tax liabilities, and workman’s comp insurance. Over the years I have seen properties ruined, revenue lost, and other problems caused by an owner who wanted to be more efficient and “save” money. Just the lost revenue even if the other draw backs didn’t happen is huge. Charley

  85. Charley, looking for some info from a expert. Our company bring hass avocado shipped in hard. the company shrink wrap store until they break, then put in 45 degree room to hold over until shipped. The problem, now they are loaded on trucks at night to send out the cold weather they sit out approx. 5 to 10 hours on a truck, before unloaded, shrink wrap around other products. the truck are ran with just rerfrigeration the freezer are off because the cold weather, the cooler are on around 40 to 50 degrees. The temperature outside is from to -10 to 20 degree. The truck doors are open and shut so the warm weather is forced out and more cold weather comes in constantly. Here the issue the avocado when they are dropped off at the restaurants, are 75% black already. When you cut the avocado like normal done the middle to see how they look. Now sometime also happening the skin of the avocado is pulling off the avocado and is showing the whole avocado outside turning black. So can you walk me through your advise of why this is happening and a recommended solution. I am curious your info on a Pinkerton avocado the difference, I know its like the shape of a potato or sweet potato see them in grocery stores, the skin seems more smooth on the out side is that product a solution, don’t know much about they avocado. What is the taste like??. I would appreciate the information. I sell a number of Mexican restaurants and this keeps happening. Please give me your knowledge.

    thanks Tom Brys

    • Tom, You have pretty much answered your own question. The fruit is cold damaged. The other aspect is the shrink wrap. I believe the only value you get is that ethylene gas from other fruit will not impact the ripening of the avocados. Fruit of all kinds is happier at constant temperatures. Being chilled then warmed then chilled again will damage the fruit and reduce the quality. The Pinkerton is usually a little larger than Hass the taste is similar to Hass. I trust this helps. I have no specific advise on your shipping challenges. I do suggest that you go to the University of California web site and look at the studies that been done on the post harvest handling of Avocado.

  86. I live in Fallbrook, by Alvarado and Stage Coach, and want to plant 3 avocado trees. A Reed, Pinkerton, and and Haas, not sure if I should go with 5 or 15 gallon trees? Who in the area have quality trees, thank you in advance.

    • Greg, The container size makes these differences. The 15 gal container will be a bigger older tree. For that you will pay more money. My experience has been that the smaller tree will catch up pretty fast. The two local nurseries with quality trees are Maddock on Ranger Road and Atkins on Reche Road. What ever size container you purchase be sure to plant the tree on a mound not in a basin.

  87. Hello,
    I live in Ramona, CA I have 1 fruit producing avocado tree on my land (I’m assuming Ramona can grow avocado but it gets cold here). I am looking at a 6 acre piece of property (undeveloped – burn down house – that had a well… just chapparal currently).
    A couple questions… do you know if the USDA has any programs to promote farming here (ie low cost/rate loans for lot/land and/or start up farming businesses? I plan on keeping my job (to pay the bills :) and would have to hire out the setup & management. Are there companies that do a feasibility study on this type of thing and that could recommend best use (other than housing)? The property is more northeast from where I currently live (off hwy 78) is it too cold there to grow avocado? I have to go to the county to do a lot more research on the land itself (has some unrelated issues I need to ask questions about) but would be thrilled by your response. I’d also love to give a portion of the produce to local community groups and possibly opening some of the property to local schools – do other people do this? Have you heard of any non-profit company’s doing this with a portion of the land? Thank you in advance for your time.
    Patty

    • Patty, You pose interesting questions. There are areas of Ramona that are too cold for avocado. You can get some idea by looking at what is growing on the property and the adjacent area. If there are cold sensitive plants doing well that is a good sign. We use sumac as a measure. It is not a sure bet but it gives you an indication. The programs I know of you have to in poverty with bad credit to be considered. You could check to see if they have any programs specifically for women. I do consulting and will send you that information if you would like to have me look at the property. If you have production you can give the product to who ever you choose. Most schools are always looking for opportunities for field trips. Unfortunately the deciding factor is usually the money to pay for the bus transportation. Mr. Glen Bell the founder of Taco Bell had an operating teaching farm in Valley Center for a number of years. It has since closed down. Good luck on your project. Charley

  88. What month of the year are Haas avocados harvested? Also, please send me your details for your consulting work. Where are you located?

    Thank you.

    • Stacey, The major harvest of Hass avocados in California occurs between March and September. There are a few harvested earlier and later. I’ll send you consulting info separately. Thanks, Charley

  89. my parents have a 30+ year old avocado grove, unfurtunally they have not using good cultural practice, so the avocado production is not good, they want us (their sons) to take care of it, but we do not know how to start, some people said to cut it down and plant new trees, other said to no cut it but to trim it, can you tell us what we should do, this particular grove is in michoacan, mexico I would really appreciate any advice, thank you>

    • Abraham, Answering your questions without seeing the orchard. I will make some assumptions so that you will at least have a point of reference. I assume the trees are Hass and they are healthy even though recently they have not been receiving TLC. I cannot recommend taking them out and replanting. First step should be to prune. The method I recommend is to cut one or two of the tallest leaders down to 8=10 feet high. This process is repeated in subsequent years until the entire tree is only 8-10 feet tall. This usually takes three years. In the third year you will probably have to lightly prune the leaders you cut the first year. Remember any actions on the trees takes time. So the longer it take to get it done the longer you have to wait to get the benefits of your actions. This process does not take the tree out of production. The production you lose from the bearing area of the tree that you cut will return quickly as you get the tree open. Remember you are now going to be pruning every year to keep the tree down to 8-10 feet high. Good luck on your new endeavor. Charley

  90. Also as a crop manager how much for you to survey our orchard and advise my wife and I to make this a viable income? This would be another source of income not our primary, so our profit does not have to be enough to solely survive on. I am looking at putting about 20 hours of labor a week (not counting watering or harvesting). May also just want an outside agency to do everything for me if I can make some money after all the expenses. Don’t mind being just doing a little better than breaking even if I am not putting any effort into the orchard.

  91. I am a retired Marine and currently have a motorcycle dismantling business. Just purchased a house in Valley Center with about 400 avocado trees that have been cared for. Looking to diversify. Other than the actual harvest, is it possible for one person to tend 400 trees? After watering, fertilizer and paying pickers how much could I expect from a wholesaler for an average crop(s) per year? I understand there are two crops a year to harvest.

    • Michael, Congratulations on your purchase. One person can tend the 400 trees assuming that there is enough time available. Doing the irrigation and fertilization are doable. If there are requirements for pruning and weed control for example then the one man operation starts getting stretched. There is really only one crop per year but in many cases it is harvested in two increments. The large fruit is harvested earlier in the season so the smaller fruit can size. The grower is paid by the pound so the more the fruit weighs the more money you receive. The amount of profit from the orchard depends on the amount of fruit (pounds) and the price per pound. It costs about $5500 t0 $6500 per acre per year to operate. If you produce 10,000 pounds per acre and average $0.80 per pound you would have a $1500 per acre margin. You can move the numbers around to see what you can expect. This should give you the basics to get started. Thanks, Charley

  92. Hello Charley,
    I appreciate what you are doing here. I plan to plant a few Avocado trees in our yard and see how they do. We’ve purchased many other trees from here http://www.fast-growing-trees.com/Hass-Avocado-Trees.htm And they sell Hass Avocado trees that are grafted from mature trees. Are these good fruit producers?

    I live in SE texas, in the Beaumont Area, close to the Louisianna border and interestate 10. We get a good amount of rain most of the year, some dry spells in the summer. So if these trees do well, we are thinking of buying about 5-10 acres and slowly develop them as an Ava farm.
    What do you recommend for new plantings?
    What type of fertilizer, root treatment?
    Potting Soil?
    Weed treatment?
    Also, do these trees present any type of danger to dogs?
    I know some types of plants/trees can have toxins in leaves.
    Thanks!
    Lorraine

    • Lorraine, I don’t recognize the web site you cited as our source of trees, so I can’t comment on the quality of their trees. If your question about production is about the Hass tree, the answer is yes they are good producers in the correct environment. I assume you would have no cold problems in your area. New plantings here in California are high density. Trees are planted as close as 12X12. When you do that you commit to pruning the trees every year. The soil should be well drained. If there is a lot of clay you will have to manage irrigation closely. The trees should be planted on mounds rather than in basins. It is important that the trees get water when they need it. That may not necessarily be when it rains. The fertilizer requirements will be driven by what type of soil they are planted. If the soil is good you will not need potting soil or organic material to plant. Weeds need to be controlled because they will use the water and fertilizer from the trees. Vets do not recommend avocados for dogs. Although the dogs here around avocado groves sometimes get fat and have shiny coats. It is known that avocado leaves can cause livestock and horses to abort if they are carrying young. Good luck on your project. Charley

  93. Hi Charley thanks for your insight, I read all the posts along with your responses and learned a lot.
    So I recently moved onto a ranch near lake wohlford in Escondido, there are about 450 avos mostly Hass, less than 20% Bacon. The trees are 25 yrs old and planted all on a hill, the soil seems like a sandy rocky loam. The orchard has been neglected, about 20% are in bad shape like completely defoliated, a few maybe dead, others are responding to irrigation which we give once a week with low pressure sprinklers in 2 hour increments but 2 hours might not be long enough since sometimes that doesn’t wet through the thick layer of avocado leaf mulch. I’m in charge of reviving this plantation and noticed some alarming “cankers” on the trunk, some trees have entire areas of bark missing like 2 feet high and 6 inches long, with dead black wood in the middle. Could this be from the sprinklers spraying water on the trunk? Because these wounds are also on the north side of the tree. Anyway, the trees have grown quite tall despite lack of water, I see bacon thrives the best under water stress. It’s my understanding that they’ve received intermittent TLC over the last 10 years and unfortunately the current owners have yet to make it profitable. Are they salvalgable? You mentioned the technique of not stumping but just cutting the tallest leader once a year. Is this also true for trees that have undergone stress resulting in 2/3 defoliation? Also do you think its worth it to revive these trees? What is the fee for you to come out and have a look? This place needs an expert eye to tell me what to do. Thanks.

    • Laura, From your brief description and without looking at them I would judge you should start all over. You are going to spend a lot of time and money to get an orchard that will never be a good producer. Better to take them out and install a new irrigation system to serve a high density planting. The money spent for this can give you optimism the future will be profitable. You are right you are not running the irrigation long enough. You didn’t say what the flow rate for the sprinklers you are using. You should be running the irrigation 10 to 12 hours depending on the sprinkler. without looking I cannot comment on the “cankers.” I don’t know where you got the information that Bacon does better under water stress. I believe I have answered your questions regarding pruning and reviving. I do consulting and my fee is $125.00per hour gate to gate. I will send you an email to make an appointment if you wish. Charley

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  94. Charley, we are an airborne imagery provider offering Normalized Digital Vegitative Index (NDVI) Water Index and Leaf Area Index using multi-spectral sensors, as well as elevation models for water control with 3d Photogrammetry. Could these kinds of products be of use to avocodo farmers? Have precision agriculture practices become common practice in avocodo farming? What decision cycles could they serve?

    • Rob, I would have to have more info to be able to answer your question. Also whether there is an application for avocado growers will also depend on the cost of the equipment or service. Please send me a link to get more info. Thanks, Charley

  95. I found your blog while researching the avocado industry. Every where I turned I came across your name, then I found your/this blog. I want to come work for you! Please email me so I can send you my resume and phone number and schedule a time to meet. I am looking for any entry level position, to get my foot in the door and learn the business from the ground up, from the foremost expert in the US. stevesinger@ymail.com

  96. Hi Charley- Great site! I see so many comments about “neglected” groves, I wonder if some might have root rot. Can you explain how one can look for obvious signs, and how it progresses and affects production, and also, any “cures” for it. Also, should one have a grove tested before purchase? Thanks in advance.

    • Brian, Looking for obvious signs may be tough for a novice. The reason is some symptoms could be caused by the neglect. The tree will have a weak appearance. Most apparent is the size of the leaves. A healthy tree has large green leaves. A weak tree will have small leaves and discolored. The leaf cover will be sparse. You would be able to look through the tree. The tree may be loaded with flower which is the trees way to preserve the species. The root rot progresses slowly. Yes it affects production both in the number of fruit and fruit size. The cures are difficult in that the cure will essentially take the tree out. The trees can be treated with phosphoric acid that will allow the tree to function in the presence of the fungus. Yes you shoud test for root rot as part of your purchase process. Charley

  97. I am in process of buy a 10 acre farm in Ramona, CA with 3 acres of avocado trees. I am planning to get a management company to help me with this process. What is the typical cost per year, for these company to operate.

    • Houman, Operating cost for a mature avocado grove in San Diego County will be about $5000.00 to $6500.00 per acre per year. Part of the variable is the water cost because of the elevation and water district. Charley

  98. We are considering buying an upscale short sale home in Thousand Oaks which has about 4 acres. There are about 130 avocado trees on the property. We are retired and know nothing about avocado growing or anything else for that matter.

    Our question is…Since the avocado trees are in an area separate from the home and lawn areas, is there any real possibility that a, a group or company will maintain and harvest the fruit in exchange for a portion of the profit?

    Since we are retired and not in the best of shape…this is really a question of whether this is a realistic expectation of having someone take care and harvest the avocados when it comes time? Or is this simply going to be a water and labor nightmare that we are getting into?

    Thanks…Don

    • Don, Yes you may be on the horns of a dilemma. It will be difficult to find an established company to enter a lease agreement on a small parcel. If you get an individual to do it, be sure you have covered all of the insurance details. I would suggest to call the Ventura County Farm Bureau to get names of some one who may be able to help. You could also call the local office of the University of California Cooperative Extension. Charley

  99. Hi Charley,

    I am from India and enthusiastic about growing avocados in my homwtown but I couldn’t find a single place locally where I could get some saplings. Could you help me in any way? Also, I am told that production per plant over it’s lifetime is just 500-600. Isn’t that kind of less? Is it really profitable?

    • Kamal, I assume you want to grow avocados in your hometown in India. I know of nursery operations in India. Shipping live plant material from any where else in the world will be very difficult. Your question about production per plant over its life time is not answerable because you never indicated what units you are thinking of. We never think of production per tree but look at production per acre. From year to year the production on a tree will vary. In California the production goal should be 10,000 pounds per acre. Charley

  100. Hello Charley, thanks for putting this blog together… Now after reading through all of them the next step for me is seeing if you could consult on some parcels in De Luz. I am trying to narrow my search down over the next few weeks and really can’t decide if I want to purchase an income producing orchard or skip it all together with rising water costs in mind. The land will be for our future home site in the next few years. Thank you for your time.

    • Jacob, Yes I can help in evaluating properties you are considering for purchase. I will send you contact information. Charley

  101. Hello Charley, I’m glad I found this blog. My situation is almost identical to the post from Abbas Baig on July 16, 2013.

    I also came across your blog while doing research for maintaining an avocado grove, and I also recently purchased a 5 acre property. However my property is on the west side of Valley Center about 5 miles in off the 15 Fwy. I don’t think the grove ever was set-up to be an income producing grove and the watering situation over the last couple of years has been anemic. The property does not have a well, however I’m confident it could become an income producing property with time. I also would like to see this property returned to its original splendor. I also would be looking for some guidance to see if it would make sense to redevelop a part of the property at a higher density and removing what is there now. Any suggestions are welcome.

    • Eric, The questions you ask requires an inspection and evaluation of the grove. My consulting service could do that for you. I will send you my email if you are interested in pursuing that option. Charley

  102. Thanks Charley,

    I appreciate your advice. The trees are trying to come back but it does make sense to consider replanting the grove. I’ll reach out to you for consulting help when we’re in a position to invest. It may make sense to add a second well at that time.

    We have enough family members to harvest the avos this year – we’ll make that work :)

    Do I need any other licenses or permits to sell the avocados at farmers market besides the seller permit?

  103. Hi Charley! First of all, thank you for your informative blog, learned so much about avocado groves. We’ve recently purchased a 7-acre empty land in Temecula and wish to start an avocado grove. We’d like to ask for your expertise in helping us set up the grove since we’re very new to this field. Any recommendations will be greatly appreciated. -Mary

    • Mary, Congratulations on your purchase. You didn’t say where in Temecula. There are some areas in Temecula that are too cold. I assume that since you are interested in starting an avocado grove there are other avocado orchards around your property. Let me give you a short version of the process for development. The first step is to do an initial design on a topo map. This would give the trees required and the material list for the irrigation system. Then the land could be cleared and the irrigation and trees installed. Once committed to the project trees would be ordered which would require a deposit. My advice would be to have this done professionally. Don’t try to do it yourself. Good luck. Let me know if I can help. Charley

  104. Hi Charley,
    My family recently purchased a home on 2 acres with an 20-30 year old hass avocado grove in very poor condition. The previous owner stopped watering the bottom acre and stumped the trees. We have a small well that appears to be providing enough water for the top acre. It might stretch to cover the bottom acre.

    Our family is new to farming and to avocados. Is it worthwhile to have a harvesting company to come up for the avocados or is it better to take this first batch to the farmer’s market? Also, I would like to find help to evaluate our situation.

    It looks like there will be about 2,000 avocados to harvest. We would like to revitalize the trees if it makes financial sense.

    Thanks!

    • Lynn, Congratulations on your purchase. Regarding having a harvesting company come to take the fruit I doubt that you could get that done. The general case is there is a labor shortage so they simply won’t come for that small amount of fruit. You can take it to a farmer’s market but you have to get a sellers permit from the county. It is a no fee permit the purpose being to keep the sellers be actual farmers rather than someone who is acquiring product and selling as a middle man. Without looking it is difficult to say if it makes sense to attempt to revitalize the trees. Most probably your money would be better spent to remove all the trees and irrigation and start over. You can replant to a high density format with a modern irrigation system. It would probably cost more on the front end but would be a better value. Charley

  105. Hello. My bus and recently retires. We have a home in México and bought a farm where we have about 1000 avocado trees. We want to learn about this business. Where would you recommend we go learn?

    • Marisol, Congratulations on your purchase. When you are starting to learn the best place to start is the University of California Cooperative Extension. They have a web site and they can furnish printed material for a small fee which will get you started. Charley

  106. Hi Charley,

    I am looking at developing 40 acres in Camarillo for avocado growth. It already has 1-2 acres of trees, but I would like to expand this (and improve what is on it already). Do you do consulting this far north? Could you send me your contact info so we can discuss?

    Thanks,
    Michael

    • Michael, It is not economical to do consulting work in the Camarillo area. It takes too much travel time. I’ll send you my email separately so we can discuss your needs. Charley

  107. Hi Charley. Thanks for taking the time to answer all these questions. I have a few specific questions Im hoping you can help me out with.

    I am thinking of purchasing some land in Temecula California that has 1400 fruit bearing Hass Avocado trees.

    1. What is the most profit one could hope to extract from this amount of trees?
    2. Is irrigation difficult/expensive for Avocado trees?
    3. Ive been researching average revenue per acre, but im not sure how many trees are in a given acre. Do you know the average number of Hass Avocado trees that fit per acre?

    Thanks so much!

    • Trevor, I am going to answer your questions in reverse order. I believe it will be more logical. Most existing orchards planted in the south were planted 15×20. That’s 15 feet between the trees and 20 feet between the rows. If you planted the trees on a pool table it would yield 134 trees per acre. Since we seldom have the opportunity to plant on flat ground we say nominally there are 110 trees per acre. Recent plantings have been made at higher density, eg. 15×15. I planted a block this year at 12×12. Simple strategy is more trees more fruit without a linear increase in the cost of production. Irrigation is not necessarily difficult if the system is properly designed and maintained. It is expensive. 75% of the cost of avocado production in the south is water. The major factor in the profit is aggressive management. The resources must be committed to correct cultural practices. You must apply the water, maintain a lower tree, and keep it well fed. For a mature grove you need to get 10,000 lbs. or more per acre. If you increase the density your production will increase. If it cost $6000.00 per acre to operate the orchard and you average $0.75 per pound you would have a $1500.00 per acre margin. You can play with the pounds and dollars to see what scenarios are profitable and what could create a loss. Remember you can’t look at one year at a time. For trees you have to look at least five years. I trust this will help. Good luck on your endeavor and let me know if we can help. Charley

  108. Hi Charley, I have 100 acres of land in south Mexico and am considering using it all for avacados. This is alot of avacados. My question is to whom can I sell them? Do i export to other countries? Do I sell locally? How can I use my land to profit from avacados? Thanks in advance for replying.

    • Nicolas, You didn’t say what state your land is located in in south Mexico. If it is in a state approved for export you can send the avocados to the local packing houses and they will sell it either locally or export it. If it is not approved for export the fruit will have to be sold in Mexico. You could check the web site for MAHIA or APEAM. They may have contact information that would be helpful. Charley

  109. Charlie,

    Hello sir. Me and my wife have about 3 acres of land that we just got handed down to us in Bonsall,Ca. We are surrounded by Grapefruit,Orange & Avocado farms. We were thinking of investing in Avocados.

    As there are pros and cons to everything in life. Is Avocados the most profitable and best investment would you say? And with only 3 acres of land would it be worth it?

    Thank you Charlie

    Jonathon

    • Jonathon, You are right there are pros and cons. First you didn’t say where in Bonsall. There are some cold spots there. I will assume your land is warm enough to plant avocado. Avocado would be your best alternative. The biggest pro is the market is strong and will be strong into the future. This is true both for the US market and the world market. The biggest con is the price of water. You have to be able to execute good farming practices to make it work. This includes staring with a high density planting, cost more to start. The strategy also requires annual pruning on the mature trees, and giving the trees adequate water. 75% of the cost of avocado production is the cost of water. Given the above 3 acres can be profitable you just get little advantage of economy of scale. If you decide to move forward, my company can help. Let me know. Merry Christmas. Charley

  110. Hi Charley, I’m thinking of planting Kona Sharwill, Holiday and Sir Prize. I have room for 4 more trees. What is your thought on these varieties. I will be selling them at the farmers market hopefully within 4 years. By then I will be semi retired. Please let me know if the varieties will grow in Mission Hills and quality and yield of each variety. I mentioned prior to this email that I have 12-Reeds, 3-Fuertes, 3-Hass; and 2-Pinkerton’s already planted and producing. 1 of Sir Prize and Holiday still in containers. Not sure if these varieties are any good? The Reed is a great tasting avacado as well as the Fuerte. As far as the Sharwill, I hear that it may not do well here in San Diego?
    Thank You
    Joe

    So far the Fuertes and Reeds produce, so far great tasting avacado’s.

    • Joe, For a farmers market operation having different varieties is a great advantage. You will have prime quality fruit at different times of the year. The varieties will also make the customers come to check you out to see what is new. Unfortunately I don’t know of anyone who has tried the Sharwill here. With only one tree I would try it. Good luck. Charley

  111. Hi Charley,
    I’d like to arrange a meeting with you on two prospective properties I am looking to buy, one around the corner from the other in Fallbrook. Can you email me directly to arrange that, if you are available.
    Thank you very much!
    Kindly,
    John

    • John, I am more than happy to look at the groves for purchase. I will send you contact info so we can arrange a meeting. Thanks, Charley

  112. Hi Charley.
    I would like to plant an avocado grove within 2-3 months on a 11 acre I bought in Deluz area. As a start I would like to plant around 1000 trees. Can you recommend a good contractor (developer)

    Than you
    Ray

    • Ray, Congratulations on your purchase. Planting in 2-3 months may be a trick. That time line would require clearing now. Generally speaking we avoid clearing in the winter because of the high risk of erosion damage from winter rain. There are other considerations also. Irrigation design must be done and then installed. If you haven’t ordered trees you may not be able to plant. Additionally my company does this type of turn key development. I will send you a separate email with contact info for your consideration. Thanks, Charley

  113. Hi Charley, my trees are from a 15gal. container and I would like to know when I should start pruning the trees? Same Joe as above with questions. Is there a book or can you explain how to prune my trees. I plan on keeping them aprox. 15′ tall and 15′ wide. Any info. would help. I use to grow decidious trees and use trim for open vase.
    Thank You
    Joe

  114. Hello Charley, thanks for explaining the irrigation layout for my avo’s in Mission Hills. I would like your opinion on 2 varieties to be added to my collection. As mentioned I have Reed, Hass, Fuerte, Pinkerton. I also have a Holiday and Sir Prize in a 15gal. Some backyard growers say that the Holiday is not a good growing tree,very weeping. Please give me your thoughts on growing a Holiday, Sir Prize and Kona Sharwill. My Reeds, Fuerte, Pinkerton, and Hass are growing like weeds.
    Thank You
    Joe

  115. I have a friend who recently cut down 10 beautiful avocado trees and will soon be taking down 10 more because he doesn’t want to pay to keep them watered. Sure wish someone could dig them up and transplant them. They’re mature trees (35+ years) delicious Hass avocados. He lives in Riverside, CA. If interested please call (951) 588-8516.

    • Janet, It is sad to see the trees being cut down. Unfortunately once the owner decides to abandon them there is not much choice. The expense to attempt to transplant the tree is huge not to mention the fact that the attempt may fail. That is an enormous stress for the tree. Sorry I can’t help. Charley

  116. Regarding the Deluz area of Temecula, was much of the planting done in the 70’s ? If so, many groves would be around 40 years old. It looks like there are a lot of groves out there that are too tall. No doubt it is difficult and more costly to pick but what about the productivity from these tall trees. How would they compare to a younger planting (8-15yrs old). Also did the planting in the 70’s use a root resistant stock.

  117. Hi to you Charley & congrats for your blog !

    I’m happy to see I’m not the only one around 55 years old, thinking about “retirement” from TOWN !
    Then just 1 question (perhaps to begin with) … having the project (far from being realised) to establish in South Africa and run a farm for a living (avos, litchis & macadamia nuts) I’m really curious to know the price base on wich you determine the different costs (mainly water & labour per hour)
    Cheers
    Eric

    • Eric, You really give me a tough question. I have some knowledge of avocado cultural practices in South Africa but not the details to specifically answer your questions. I can give some info on those elements in California. Water management and cost are normally measured in acre feet. Growers who buy the water from water districts pay for water at a rate for units measured in 1000 gallons or 100 cubic feet. Growers who have wells pay for water by paying for the electric power to pump the water usually in kwh. Most labor is paid by the hour with the rate varying with the skill level. Some activities may be paid on a piece rate example would be harvesting. Some management level position may be paid a salary instead of hourly. I believe this will at least give you some parameters to evaluate a situation. Charley

  118. Hi Charlie,

    We have a 5 acre avocado grove in Redlands with mixed varieties of avocados (Pinkerton, Zutano, Bacon, Mexican, and Hass). Due to a severe frost a few years ago, many of our trees have become severely diseased. Therefore, we are removing the sick trees and replacing them with Hass. I have two questions for you:
    1. Can you recommend a variety of Hass that is frost resistant and fungus resistant?
    2. If I chip the trees that I’m removing, can I use them as mulch for the new trees?

    Thanks for your help, Dennis

    • Dennis, First I am not sure how you get from frost damage to disease. The trees may have been damaged so bad that they couldn’t recover. In any event you can replace them with Hass. Hass is the variety. There is not a a variety of Hass. You may be thinking of different root stocks on which the Hass may be propagated. There are several clonal root stocks that are resistant to root rot(fungus). Currently the most popular root stock is Dousa. You would need to check with your nursery on what they have available. I know of no tree that is resistant to cold. There are products that you can apply to the tree to give it some frost protection. The product will give you instructions on how to make the application. Essentially it has to be applied in advance of the cold and it provides protection for a specified amount of time. Yes you can use the chips for mulch on the new trees. I trust this info will get you started. Thanks. Charley

  119. Hello, I have an avocado a couple of months that has emerged from its seeds. That I can hope to raise it and getting the fruit? Or it should be inoculated? I live in the Mediterannean climate by the sea in the northern Adriatic. Which variety can plant here? Thanks for your response!

    • Astrid, I trust you enjoyed your avocados. Yes you can grow a tree from the seed. It will give you a very attractive tree. Unfortunately you cannot predict if it will give you fruit. If it does you cannot predict what it will be. The fruit will revert to the parent of the tree’s root stock. Some times the fruit will taste good, other times maybe not. The commercial variety fruit you buy in the store is from trees that have been grafted. Any variety will do well in your area. I don’t know if there are nurseries in your area to buy a tree. Good luck on your search. Charley

  120. Hi Charley,
    Thank you for starting and maintaining this valuable tool.
    My question refers to pruning. What is the best method (practice) for pruning and maintaining your trees to a 10-15 foot level?
    Also, is it better to stump 40 year old trees or replant your grove with Dusa or other new trees?
    Thanks,
    Joe

    • Joe, The best method to maintaining your trees at 10-15 feet depends on how high they are when you start The simple answer without seeing the trees is to say that the pruning requires selecting a branch or leader to prune. The selection should open the inside of the tree to light and laterals should be cut so the trees aren’t touching. You should not prune the tree like a hedge. Don’t give the tree a hair cut by pruning or clipping a little from every leader. This will stimulate leaf flush and very quickly the inside of the tree will be dark.
      Your question about stumping or replanting is difficult without seeing the grove. Some years ago the University did a study that showed over time you would make more money if you took the trees out and replanted. This is tough in most of the terrain where the avos are planted. Most of the terrain limits the use of a lot of equipment. Besides the best solution may be a combination of actions. First only in unusual circumstances do I stump tall trees now. Instead we cut a tall leader from the inside of the tree and leave the rest to stay in production. Then we repeat the process in subsequent years to get the tree lowered and maintain the lower height. Depending on the spacing of the original planting once the trees are lowered you can probably add trees in between the original planting. This general approach should help get you on track. Charley

  121. Dear Charlie,
    We are considering purchasing property in the De Luz Area, Temecula. It already has a grove on it. We noticed there is quite a lot of land for sale in that area. Is there a problem with that area. As far as pests control, per sea mite or avocado thrip? Looking at production for the last five years, profits and crop has dropped considerably. Any comment would be appreciated.
    Thanks Dawn

    • Dawn,
      The area no more or less pests than any other growing areas. This year the persea mites came later. Most of us believe the strange weather pattern this year caused the delay. Pest in general will tend to attack groves that are not in the best health. So one cannot assume because there are properties on the market that there is something wrong. The high price of water continues to put pressure on the growers. If they are not farming correctly they tend to give up and sell. You said a review of 5 years of records indicated profits and production has dropped considerably. Without looking I’ll bet the trees are very tall. They are canopied and the only production is at the top of the tree. Because production goes down folks start cutting back on the water to save money and then they produce less fruit. Current conditions may not be the true indication of the grove’s potential. If you need more help let me know. Charley

  122. Hi,
    We are managing my parents place atm, and they have 6 acres of Bowen mangos and a number of different varieties of Avocado trees.
    I have a question regarding avo trees flowering twice. We are currently picking this year’s crop and the trees are all reflowering.
    We are in two minds if how to proceed….do we strip the trees, leaving it to have another season. Or should we just pick as usual, picking the larger fruit, letting the smaller fruit grow.
    We would love to here your advice.
    Oh by the way, we are in south east Qld Australia.
    Thanks Tammy

    • Tammy, The tree doesn’t wait for the fruit to be harvested before While it doesn’t have flowers year round it is not unusual for it to have crop and then start flowering. Actually as I think about it, it would be typical for it to have fruit and start flowering. So the simple answer if to size pick the larger fruit. The only caveat is don’t make the tree carry the current crop and flowers that will quickly turn into new crop too long. The tree can only do so much. If you wait too long to harvest the old crop you will impact the crop for next year. I trust this will help. If not give me an update and I will try to give you more info. Charley

  123. Hi, my names victoria. I’m not a farmer, I do love gardening tho. This last past December I bought my first avocado tree. everything was going great until I planned. I found out a few things I was doing wrong. Changed it hoping I could save it. My avocado is a young one, almost two years.. tree is molding from the inside out and it won’t stop, its almost taking over the whole tree. I was watering it regularly like it was a regular plant… I was told after that was one reason it is dieing, that Its molding from the inside out. Please help me. I wish to help this avocado survive

    • Victoria, Answering your question is difficult because I don’t have enough information. For example where are you, I don’t know what is “watering like it was a regular plant.” Also I don’t know what is “molding from the inside out.” You didn’t say in what kind of soil the tree is planted. All considered let me give it a shot. I am guessing you planted the tree in a basin and you are periodically filling the basin. The soil probably tends to be heavy. The net result is you are drowning the tree. The tree needs to get water and then have an opportunity to dry out and then receive more water. We plant trees on a mound that is as much as 18 inches above grade. The entire area of the mound and surrounding area is irrigated and then allowed to dry before irrigating again. I suspect you will not want to hear this, but consider all your efforts so far as a learning experience. Remove the tree start over and follow the suggestions above. Charley

    • I really need to know how much the average grower (commercial) spends on controlling root rot and soil disease. I would also like to know about fungus in the fruit and leaf and an estimate on what it costs per acre per month to control it. Thanks so very much.

      P

      • Peter, I really don’t believe I can answer your question. A grower may spend effort to attempt to prevent root rot from entering his property as a way to control the fungus. If the grove has root rot depending on how extensive it is and how intense it is he may choose several courses of action. The range could be removing the trees to fumigate and replant. to phosphorous acid trunk injection, to adding organic material and changing irrigation practices.
        You didn’t say where you are so I’ll give you a response to your second question for California. We have no problems with fungus on the fruit and leaves because of the dry climate. Fruit handled improperly after harvest could be susceptible to fungus. The leaves in California do not get fungus although they are vulnerable to pest such as persea mite and avocado thrip. Hopefully this info will help you on researching answers to your questions, Thanks, Charley

  124. Hi Charley

    I am in the process of buying an 11 acre lot with a home in Temecula. It has an existing avocado grove on it with 600 trees. I wanted to know if you had any advice on risks related to this venture for someone who wants to learn but lacks the experience.

    Thank you

    • Tony, Congratulations on your purchase. You ask about risks related to the venture. That really has two aspects. Risks for an owner or risks as the operated. If your intention is to operate the orchard yourself you need to know that you are making a enormous time commitment. The trees are very resilient so with a little common sense you won’t destroy them while you learn. It would be unexpected that you would maximize production during your learning. Even hiring management as an owner you would still want to learn about the trees and the industry. This learning is less critical and can be accomplished over time. Either case profitability in todays environment requires attention to detail and innovation. If you would like more help, let me know. Good luck. Charley

  125. Hi Charlie, Weve met once. Please tell everyone when the best time to trim avocados to let more lite into the trees.. Maybe taking out the tallest shoot. How low should or can it be cut? 8ft. 12ft. ? thank you Great Blog. Robert on Sandia Creek rd.

    • Robert, A tough question to answer. There are many factors in play over which you have no control. Examples I am sure you already realize: weather, fruit condition, market condition. availability of labor. Also remember that a Hass avocado tree has fruit on the tree all year, either current crop or next year’s crop. So if I were operating in a perfect world I would wait until the size 60 was released after the first of the year and strip pick all the branches I was going to prune. Then cut one or more tall leaders from the tree. Getting the tree down to 8 to 12 feet should be the goal. Depending on the height and condition of the tree you may not be able to cut to that height the first time. The process takes a number of years. Usually before you finish the cutting to get to the desired height you may have to prune the leaders you cut the first year. All this being said the most important consideration is to begin. If you wait for the ideal you may never get them cut. The record clearly shows lower and open produces more fruit. I know it sounds crazy but you may have to cut some fruit to the ground to ultimately maximize your production.

  126. Hello Charley, I had spoke with you a couple of days ago on the phone. Thanks for the info. I don’t want to sound like a pain in the neck, didn’t quite understand the watering system layout. I have a long dirt walkway about 300ft. Planted avacado trees on each side in rows. Since the main water line is down the center and branching off to each tree how would I set up the feed heads away from the tree. I know you mentioned about watering for the 1st. 3 or 4 years with a 180 degree head aprox. 3ft. from the trunk on the high side. The other head used after 4yrs. old trees use a 360deg. head. I don’t quite follow you on this. Can you explain this again. Thank You. Joe

    • Joe, It is difficult to answer your question without seeing what you are dealing with. For example you say there is a path 300ft long. You don’t say whether it runs up and down the hill or across it. The avocados are on each side in rows? The main water line down the center branching to each tree. Center of what? You see the confusion. So let me answer the question in the general sense and you should be able to apply it to your situation. I am not trying to tell you what to do in your current situation I am only giving you how to do it if you were beginning with a clean sheet of paper. So if you had a gentle sloping piece of land to plant an orchard here is what you would do. You would look at the land to find where you can put rows of trees so that the rows are on the contour. Another way to look at it is everything along the row is at the same elevation. next you would determine how long the rows will be. Then decide what the spacing will be. How far between the trees and how far between the rows. Decide where the first row will be, then put stakes or flags at each spot where a tree will be. When that is finished then measure to locate the next row. Repeat the process in the next row and continue until you use all the land. With your rows laid out parallel to each other on the contours you can now find the center of the rows. Now you would install a water main running up and down the hill perpendicular to the rows. If the center of the rows is at a tree position then you have to adjust to either side or just eliminate those trees. Now you can install the lateral lines. They are plumbed into the main line usually with a valve to control the water going to the trees. These lateral lines can be installed at the stakes and the trees can be planted below or you can install the line three feet above the stakes and the trees planted at the stakes. The 180 degree spitters are placed on the riser located above each tree. Later the spitter will be removed and replaced with a sprinkler. I understand why this is confusing to you. I would suggest that before you try to apply this to your planting first just read it and try to draw what I have said on a piece of paper. I believe this will make it easier to understand. Good luck. Charley

  127. Hi Charley, I am emailing you again, didn’t know if the 1st. went through. I live in mission hills and half a half acre of land to grow avacado trees. I have a few 15 gal. in the ground, hass, fuerte,pinkerton and reed. I also have a large very old fuerte that produces aprox. 1500 avacado’s every other year. My question is which variety would be the most profitable to grow and sell at the farmer’s market? It’s been a couple of years since I started growing and a real experience of growing trees. Water management is a challenge. I have room for 15 more trees. Plan on keeping the trees down to 15’x15′. Thank You Joe

    • Joe, If your plan is to grow avocados to sell at farmers market you want to choose varieties that will give you fruit year round. The varieties you have pretty much fill that criteria. You might want to consider a winter variety to fill the time between the Reeds and the beginning of the Fuerte. You may also want to consider Lamb Hass to augment your Hass sales. The challenge is to determine the number of trees of each variety to balance the production. I believe you will just have to try and see where it takes you. I would add the trees incrementally to see how the sales run. Remember the trees native environment is tropical so they need a lot of water. The irrigation should be run for a relatively long time then allow the trees to dry out. This will push the salt in the irrigation water below the root zone. The way you use the term 15×15 I suspect you may not understand the term. It describes planting spacing, 15 feet between the trees and 15 feet between the rows. Good luck on your endeavor. Charley

  128. Hi Charlie-I have my own grove on DeLuz Road, near Green Valley Rd, north of Fallbrook. It has about 475 acres, planted about 7 years ago. I had alot of small fruit and culls this year, more than previous, I know FPUD water was applied at reasonable rates, I did only one fertilization during 2012, so that might have messed up the size, quality, and yields. So, my question is how to get the sizes so that I am not in the 70+ categories, and get the trees to produce more fruit in the 48 range? I know that you have a lot of experience and have heard some good things from neighbors orchards that you manage. Perhaps we could meet and discuss options on whether I should drill a well, etc….

    • Mark, I initially read your comment while sitting in on the Avocado Commission’s Production Research Committee meeting. They were having a presentation from a UCR reseacher’s proposal to analyze methods to optimize fruit size and total production. Needless to say it surprised me. Let me answer your question now because you wil need to do something before the research is complete. First you need to know that the small sizes were a problem across the industry. I had groves that peaked on 70’s yet I had others that had a more normal size distribution. I believe the small sizes this year were caused by a combination of weather both during polination and during fruit development. For some reason fruit seems to size better when we get rain even though they may have received adequate irrigation. If the fertilizer during 2012 was not adequate that would contribute to the small sizes. I am sure I have seen your grove even though I don’t know where it is, but the trees may also need some pruning to open them up to get more sunlight to the fruit. This is not a definitive answer but general. To provide more specific details would require inspecting the property. Charley

  129. Hello Charley, I came across your blog while doing research for maintaining an avocado grove. I have recently purchased a 5 acre property in the De Luz area of Temecula. This land was at one point an income producing avocado grove. It has been several years since, and with my recent purchase, I have a 5 acre avocado grove that I would like to revive and bring back to its original splendor. Can you reccomend/provide some guidance as to what it will take as far as cost and time? there are several dead trees that need to be removed and most just need some TLC and water. I do believe there is a well on the property and irrigation. Any help/assistance you can provide, I will be greatful. Thank you.

    • Abbas, Your question is eing asked frequently lately. To give you some guidance without seeing the orchard is difficult at best. You need to be very wary of trying to restore trees that may not be worth rstoring. If there are some dead trees that is an indication that the situation may require more than just water and fertilizer. You won’t want to hear this but it may be better to take the trees out and begin again. This would give you the opportunity to plant to a high density pattern which will be the best in the long run. I will send you separately my email address if you might be interested in consultation and/or management of your property. Charley

  130. Hello,
    I have been fascinated with avocados for only one good reason. I come from a land of avocados. In Mexico we literally grow them any and everywhere and even eat them daily in our everyday meals (depending on how much of an avocado lover you are, of course!). Now that I live in the U.S. , however, I have become astonished by how much higher avocados are in price in here, and not at all nearly as how many more you get down in Mexico by the kilo (here, everything is measured and given in lbs.). In the state of OH, where I happen to live avocados are specially a bit less common, much less used, and much more pricier than the usual in this country in comparison to other warmer-climate states.

    Therefore, I have truly wanted to cultivate my own avocados, even just for my own meals. They are a part of my culture and country’s identity. But, due to the type of climate and weather conditions in OH, I think growing even my small portion of avocados will be yet more challenging.

    As a result, I have a few questions on my situation.
    -Do I need to grow my avocados in a greenhouse? Is that the only way to grow them in Ohio?… Under controlled and set warm temperature, and protected from the windy air and the rain (it can rain here a lot and gets pretty humid frequently, I am not sure if humidity can spoil avocado growing)? Plus, as it can get to rain pretty frequently at times, it gets even cloudier more frequently than that. Thus, the avocados can go without sunlight for a few days and very frequently in some seasons. The greenhouse thus will provide that ‘light’, keep them warm, and protect them from any other avocado-unfitting weather conditions besides any possible plagues or animals eating the once mature avocados that fall on to the ground.
    -Then, I saw that you answered quite a good question earlier on:
    Production of avocados per acre is around 10,000+. That is quite great , although I am not sure if that is simply the normal for the avocado production rate. Either way, would that be for a year? Or for several years of cultivation 10,000+ avocados would be about the average for that one acre? I know avocados from the seed would of course take much longer to grow than a baby but already-grown avocado tree from a nursery. Therefore, do you guys have to be cultivating avocados for several years until you see any ‘fruitful’ results? Is avocado production then not even yearly?
    -And lastly, this may sound a bit ignorant but pardon my inexperience on the subject: Once you grow avocados on a certain region, does the tree and soil that once gave fruits, does it remain fertile long after then? Meaning, a tree that may have given all the avocados it can give by year, can it keep on giving more avocados, that same already-grown tree? Or does each tree give fruits only but once?

    Thank you for the time into reading and responding. I appreciate it.

    • Ivette, You have aready answered part of your questions. Yes it is too cold in Ohio to grow avocados outside. Nurseries start trees in a green housebut ultimately they are moved outside. Avocado trees grow very tall, 60 feet. If you grow them in a green house it would require constanat pruning to keep them small. Aditionally the tree’s flowers require polination to produce fruit. This is normally done with bees. I really don’know if bees would fly into the green house. Lastley I don’t know if you could get a nursery to ship one or two trees. You can grow a tree from the seed of the avocao you bought at the store. It will not produce the variety of the fruit you purchased. The varietal has to be grafted to the seedling. The tree grown from a seed may not produce any fruit. If it does produce fruit it will probably some thing from its parent root stock. The productiona numbers are for one acre for one crop year. The trees will produce multiple years provided they are given proper care. It takes about four to five years for the tree to get to commercial production. Some times the trees have fruit on them when we plant them but that isn’t commercial production. All this being said use your money to buy fresh California avocados in your favorite super market. At any price they are a nutricious food value. Charley

  131. Charley,
    Aren’t there issues with using only well water. I have read about people mixing well water along with potable water. Also, I have read about lowered yield because of this.

    • Jim, The issue is not where the water comes from, but the quality of the water. For example a shallow well will tend to have poorer quality water, a deeper well better. Of course the deeper the better. Mixing with district water is usually done for two reasons. First the well doesn’t have the capacity to furnish enough water for the irrigation requirement so you add the district water. The other is the water quality issue. You blend to improve the water quality. Potable does not necessarily mean good for irrigation. District water can be high in chlorides. The reduced yields come from the salt. I trust this helps. Charley

  132. Hi.

    I can get 20+ acres in San Luis Obispo County for a reasonable price–less than $6,000 per acre. It is zoned agricultural. Land is very flat.

    Is is possible to develop a profitable operation based on an average yield? I am guessing that I will use well water. I see it as a five year plan to fully populate the land with trees.

    Any thoughts you have would be useful.

    Just curious.

    Dave F.

    • Dave, The simple answer to your question is yes. This is based on doing a high density planting 12×12 or even 10×10 0n staggered centers. You are committed to annual pruning. Properly farmed this system will produce yields in higher than 10,000 pounds per acre. With the well you should be in the black consistantly. The high density planting will cost more on the front end but will give you more consistant profit. There is avocado production in San Luis Obispo County, but you need to verify that you are in a frost free location. Charley

  133. Hi Charley, I enjoy reading your post. About 35 years ago, my mom threw a few avocado pits into her backyard. She ended up with 2 trees, male and female. They are the best avocados. They are not hass. My mom’s dad planted a tree and from that tree she planted several pits and from that she got 2 trees. Every year masses amounts of fruit appear. We have to get up on her roof to be able to reach them. By the way, she lives in the East Bay in California. The neighbors look forward to the avocado season for they know my mom will be passing out the goodies. Unfortunately, the tree is too close to the house and soon will need to be cut down. I would love to know if there is anyway someone could receive some of her fruit for future growth. I have taken some leaves to nurseries but they do not know what type of avocado plant it is. Any suggestions?

    • Laura, Commercial avocados grow from seedlings that are grafted to a specific variety. When you take a seed from an avocado and plant it it will grow into a tree. It won’t produce the kind of avocado the seed came from. For example if you buy a Hass avocado from the store and plant that seed, you will not grow a Hass tree. The new tree will be some variation of that trees root stock. It may not even be the previous generation. The fact that your mother’s seed produced a tree with edible fruit is unusual. Some times you get a liitle fruit, some times it is edible. Your mother was lucky. You don’t have to cut the tree down. You can prune it back even a lot and it will grow back. All being said I don’t know where you could go with the fruit for future production. Just enjoy what you have. Charley

  134. Charlie,
    I have a small avocado orchard on approximately 1 acre on terraced hillside. We have approximately 80 trees…however, the trees have been random in their development and some areas on the slope, the trees look “anemic”. I live in the Camarillo, CA area and have an maintenance company watching the orchard. Initially, they had assessed that the soil was too alkaline and that they were trying to balance the PH of the soil…this note was three years ago and the trees still look tired. How can I overcome this problem? Is there anyone in my area you could recommend to come out and take a look at the orchard? I am also frustrated by my lack of knowledge as to why the trees look so tired. The orchard has been here before we built on the land…almost 25 years.

    • Aldric, Regarding the soil PH (alkaline) you should contact an ag lab in your area to get a soil analysis and a leaf analysis to verify the actual conditions and make a fertilizer recommendation to correct the situation. I would recommend going on line to the Avocado Commission website and the University Extension web site for more information on avocados. If you don’t have success let me know. Charley

  135. Hi Charlie! Thanks for your great site. My husband and I are thinking of buying a mature avocado grove in Carpinteria as an investment/retirement home for some years down the road. I see from your writings here that at some point we’d have to invest in making a smaller, more dense orchard, but could you tell me what the likely costs and potential realistic profits would be on a forty acre producing ranch of Hass avocados there? I know this is a bit vague but I don’t know enough to go on – are there other sites or books you could recommend? Thanks so much.

    Laura

    • Laura,
      I am often asked your question. Let me first comment on some generalities. Agricultural business now demands close managemnet and committment. It doesn’t matter what the commodity is, cattle, carrots, or conola. Avocados particularly demand that attention because the tree is tropical and we are growing them in the arid parts of the state. Water is expensive and they demand water to get good production. Because it is a perenial crop you must have the resources to care for the trees even though something bad happened eg, wind blows a lot of fruit to the ground, unusual cold damages the fruit for market, unavailable labor to harvest at the right time. These circumstances may diminish your revenue in the short term. The tree doesn’t know that nor does it care. The trees still require their full care, water, fertilizer, weed control, and pruning.
      Now the speifics, I do not have personal experience of growing in Carpinteria. On the other hand the general case will give you an idea of what to expect. Revenue comes from the amount of fruit produced, the size distribution, and the market price. Growers are paid by fruit size and grade. If we each have 100 pieces of fruit and my sizes are bigger I will get more money. Of course the more pounds you have the more money you will receive. Obviously the objective is high volume with good sizes. We can look at the performance on a per acare basis. For a regular spaced grove the objective should be 10,000 lbs/acre. To make the math simple assume you average $0.80/lb. Operating cost less debt service should be between $5000.00 to $6000.00 per acre. In this scenario you have a margin of $2000.00 with the higher operating cost. You can create a wide array of scenarios by varying the three elements production, price, and costs. Furthermore making the investment to lower the trees and increase the tree density can create an almost geometric increase in margin. Doubling the number of trees will not double the water cost. I trust this will help get you in the ball park.
      Charley

  136. Hi Charlie,
    Here comes the question out of left field. I will be retireing in about 6 years and love avocadoes. I lived in Guam for a while and had a tree in my backyard that I got hooked on. I will be returning to Ohio at the end. I know that here i would need greenhouses throughout our winters, but is it feasable to plant say 100 trees and believethey would produce enough to make the work worthwhile. The soil here is excelent. There is no concern about water prices(more rivers and streams than you can shake a stick at). Land prices are at a bottom dollar. I would defianatelya need some help with getting it all started, but once going I feel that its produce could keep it selfsufficent.
    V/R
    Jason

    • Jason,
      I admire your optimism. As you have concluded it is way to cold for avocado trees to grow in Ohio. New trees are grown in green houses to get them started. At this stage they are small, maybe 3 feet. The tree if not pruned would grow to 60 feet. To plant 100 trees in a green house would take about an acre of green house. So even if you did that you would have to agressively prune them so they didn’t literally grow through the roof. The other consideration is I don’t know if they would produce in a green house. The trees have to polinated usually by bees. You would have to something to take care of that. Finally I don’t know if any nursery would be willing to ship the trees that distance. If so at what cost? I appreciate your recognition of the taste and nutrition of the avocado. It might be better to just go the store and buy a high quality California avocado.
      Charley

  137. Hi charley,

    I have 4 avocado trees and I had them planted 10 years ago. I do get some fruit but not much. I had an arborist come out to look at all of my trees and he commented on my avocado trees. He said that they were planted to deep. He also said that he didn’t think they should be planted on a slope with a rock basin as a planter. Can you send me your email address so I can send you a picture? I am afraid for anyone to touch my trees :( I don’t want them to die, I have baby’d them for so long I would like to get an experts opinion like yours before I let anyone touch them. Thank you in advance for your help and time.

    • Bob, You didn’t tell me where you are nor what kind of soil the trees are planted in. But based on the comments made by the arborist to you I believe he is probably right. There is a tendency for folks to plant the trees too deep. Plus he said he questioned the stone basin. Just haveing the basin is not good. For example when we plant trees in a commercial orchard we plnat them on mounds 18 to 24 inches above grasde. The trees have been in the ground too long to try to raise them. You can remove the stones and the basins so the water will drain away from the base of the tree. Finally you will need to manage your irrigation practices. If you don’t get a response from the trees, I am afraid you will have to remove them and plant new trees. I will send you my email. Charley

  138. Hi Charlie,The reason that I came upon your website is that I was in Carpenteria last weekend and I was struct by how large the trees were in many of the groves.This runs counter to my commercial farming background in citrus(navel oranges),were we top and prune our trees and my feeling was that these groves were not being farmed correctly.I read in your earlier comments that you prefer a 15x 15 spacing with a max height of 10 feet.That seems much more logical to me,although I have never farmed avacados.As a matter of interest can you tell me if you use fan jet or drip irrigation.Also I would like to know the variety and rootstock that would work with that planting spacing.I would think that some varieties because of there genetics might not do well in a tighter space. Thanks

    • Tashi,In my opinion to be profitable over time the tree height has to be lowered In today’s economy you can’t afford the extra labor to harvest theose very tall trees. Some growers have postponed this lowering effort because of the cost. Ultimately it will have to be done, because the lower open tree will produce more fruit. I planted some trees last year on 12×12 centers. The objective is to get more trees per acre. Most avo plantings now are on low pressure low volume sprinklers. The current preferred root stock is Dousa. The Reed avocado generally grows narrower taller. it has a different position in the market place. To maintain the height and openness for the Hass tree will require annual pruning. I trust this will help. Charley

  139. We are considering several groves in your area. Would love to get your opinion on them. Please contact me.
    Thanks

    • Sandy,
      I will send you a phone number and email to contact me direct. Thanks for your interest. I look forward to working with you on your new endeaver.
      Charley

  140. Charlie: I am An American living in Mexico. I have About 16 acres. I started to plant some Hass avacado trees. I know nothing about them. I would like to know about type A and type B trees. Does having honey bees increase production? I would like to know when and how much to prune trees? I water them once a week using drip system about 2 gallons per hour for 4 hours. nights are cool but days are hot and dry. How long does it take to produce fruit? Here there is not a lot of information available Thank You Thomas

    • Thomas,
      Thanks for your inquirey. There isn’t enough information to provide detailed answers to you questions. The general comment is that you didn’t say where you are in Mexico or at what elevation. Therefor my answers of necessity will be very general. First the tree has both A and B flowers. They don’t open at the same time but there is overlap so you can get polination. Honey bees will definitely increase polination. The University of California has conducted research for the California Avocado Commission to analyse the effects of the bees. You should be able to access it online. It addresses bee density per acre, optimum hive location in the orchard among other issues. I recommend a pruning strategy of keeping the trees at 8 to 10 feet. This goes with a high density planting strategy. You didn’t say when you planted these trees so it is difficult to comment on your irrigation practices. Unless you just planted them I don’t believe you are giving them enough water. You also didn’t say where the water is coming from. That could make a difference. I have planted trees with fruit on them. The measure is commercial production. That is enough fruit to bring a harvesting crew in to harvest and send the fruit to a packing house. Generally commercial production comes after 4 to 5 years. I hope this helps. CHARLEY

      • Hi Charley: I planted trees last year in July. It is the rainy season here in mexico thru september. It usually doesnt rain until the next year. We had three days of rain New years week.I have some trees 6 feet tall. I dont know the altitude. I am close to Magdelena ,Mexico. The water is coming from a steam that has water all year long. Also can you recomend a type of fertilizer.

  141. Thanks for your timely and thoughtful response, Charley! I will be in touch with you. With water rates as high as they are, it makes sense to look at all options to boost productivity in order to make it work financially, whether the grove is established, neglected or new.

  142. Hi Charley! Great, informative website you have here.

    My question is this: When looking at properties of 4-10 acres, would it be worth it to consider a neglected grove (where the water has been shut off and most of the trees have died) that is cheaper to acquire initially, but have to replant most of the grove, or simply find an established grove, pay considerably more at the onset. For example, I had looked at a 5.5 acre grove where the owner shut the water off last year. All the infrastructure was in place…the only problem was that most of the trees had died. In other words is it more trouble than it’s worth to revive a dead grove?
    Thanks for your feedback!

    • Chris,
      There is no simple answer to your question. It requires an analysis of the properties you are comparing. For example if you looked at a grove that had the water turned off last year the trees should not have died. They would looked stressed but not dead. So the water had been off longer than one season or there are other problems in the grove. You also have to understand that when you buy a grove suffering from deferred mainternance it takes time for it too recover while you are incurring operating costs. Conversely there are a lot of groves that are being maintained but still need a lot of work to get them in a position to be profitable over time given the increasing costs of operation especially water. Bottom line is don’t make a decision based on neglected or maintained. Spend the time or money to analyze the value of the property and its potential. I can help just let me know.
      Best regards.
      Charley

  143. I have been browsing on-line greater than three hours lately, yet I by no means discovered any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth sufficient for me. In my opinion, if all web owners and bloggers made excellent content material as you did, the internet shall be much more helpful than ever before.

  144. Charley, I’ve been researching as much as I can on Avocado farming. I’m looking at a couple of properties in the De Luz area. From what I can tell a lot of San Diego county farms have shut down due to the high water costs. I’m told De Luz is thru the Rancho California water district and the water price is much lower and assumed to be more stable because a lot of the water comes from a Temecula area aquifer and not all from the Colorado river. Your thoughts? Thanks!!

    • Calvin,
      I assume you are talking about property on the north end of DeLuz road. Those properties are served by the Rancho California Water District. You can verify the water rates for that area by calling the Rancho water district. Generally their rates are lower because they have local ground water to supplement what they buy from the Metropolatin Water District. There has been avocado acreage taken out of production or switched toa an alternate crop because of the cost of water. That being said the strategy must be to farm correctly and efficiently to produce more fruit to off set the higher water cost. If a grower can’t do that for what ever reason I’m afraid they are doomed. If you are looking for an avocado property, water pricing or a well should obviously be considered. These considerations shouldn’t trump the orchard’s overall production potential. Many times groves have more potential that is simply not being taken. Let me know if I can help you in your search for a property.
      Best regards, Charley

  145. Hi Charley, I live in Newbury Park, and my home is on appx 2 acres. A large majority of the property is landscaped. I was considering removing all grass, much ground cover, some small trees etc., and planting avocados. So, the planted area, would be spread out from every corner of the property, and separated by pool, house, driveway, etc. It’s obviously all irrigated now, but irrigated for a different purpose.
    What do you think? Is it a silly idea, or do you think I should look in to it further?

    • Oh, and I forgot to mention, my water bill now is $600-$800 monthly. I just figure that if I am going to spend that much on water, I may as well produce somthing with it. Also, would I not get some kind of a “special” or “different” kind of pricing structure on water?

    • The logic of your conclusion is sound. Unfortunately circumstances may make unfeasible. I assume there are no cold problems at your home. That being said the avos will do well. After getting it planted you would have a requirement for cultural work to farm the trees. If you have the knowledge and time then there is no problem. If you don’t I would expect that you would have some difficulty hiring competent labor in Newbury Park. The biggest bump in the road may be getting the fruit to market. I don’t know if any of the packing houses would come to pick up the fruit. Your neighbors might not be happy with the boom trucks coming to your house. If you choose to direct market at Farmer’s Market, this requires a significant time committment.
      There might be an opportunity for some other crop. I only suggest you completely examine all the elements of the project. Growing products in Southern CA is relatively easy, but that’s only the tip of the ice berg. It is all the rest that complicates the endeaver.

      Best regards,
      Charley

  146. Dear Mr. Wolk,
    I am looking to buy 20 to 40 acres in Temecula area with the tree on them . I have no experience with avocado. I saw a few proposition but at one site some of trees looks old and too big, on other site trees looks healthy with very green leafs but on a trunk all trees have strange circles black inside and white around looks like burn. Could you please help me with or advise me any specialist in this area who can help me to assess the condition of the trees on the property what I going to buy.
    All the best,
    Oleg.

    • Oleg,
      I can help you with your decision on what property to buy. we can meet on the property to evaluate their health and potential. Without seeing the properties you describe it is difficult to to be precise. The orchard that you describe aas old and too big may be suffering from inadequate irrigation. Also if you view them as too big that is a good indication that they would need to be lowered. This is not fatal in a decision to purchase only that you would need to plan for the expense to lower the trees. The orchard with strange circles that look like burns are probably burns from Phosphorous acid trunk injections. The injections are made to enable the tree to function in the presence of root rot and to stimulate flowers for fruit production. I trust this will help. Let me know if I can help you in your decision.

      Best regards,
      Charley

      • Dear Mr. Wolk,

        Thank you for response. I find 40 acres orchard in Temecula. If you will have time this week we can meet on the property . Please let me know if you available.

        All the best,

        Oleg.

  147. Hi there mr Wolk. We were thinking of buying 20 to 100 acres in the temecula fallbrook area and starting to build up a farm as a long term investment, most of the land we’ve looked at already has trees on them, are the costs commonly cited by you and the uc Davis folks based on not doing much of the labor yourself? How does having your own well for all the water factor into the costs? We’d be able to do a good amount of work ourselves. Trying to wrap our heads around things.

    • Michael,
      Yes most operating cost analysis put a cost for the cultural task no matter who does it. The cost is essentially the same. If you do the work yourself there is still a value on your time. You just don’t write a check for it. There are some requirements for doing the work yourself. First is that you have the time to do it. Probably most important do you have the technical knowledge to either do it yourself or supervise hired labor. I don’t have time or space to share with you the damaged done to groves by owners who were “saving money.” Another view is to look at both sides of the ledger. Saving money can be very expensive if you are not maximizing production. Haveing your own well has a major impact on your operating cost. You have the initial capital expense of establishing the well, but after that pumping costs are usually way less than buying district water.

      If you identify the property you are going to buy I can help you with your decisions.

      Charley

  148. im just wanting tii grow me one at my country home how would i do this to produice some avacados for my self where do i get trees and seeds can you help i live in beaumont tx

    • Sarah,
      Sorry for the delay in response to you. I had to check the weather in Beaumont. The weather is acceptable althoug there have been rare occasions when there has been snow and freezing temperatures. If you have that situation you would have to take some measures to protect the tree. The only option I can suggest to get a tree would be to go to your local nursery to see if they have an avocado tree. If they don’t they may get other plant material from California and could add it to the shipment. This would be the easiest because a separate shipment of one tree be more expensive and more difficult to get ag shipping clearence.

  149. Hello! I wondered if you might know whether the “fruiting” season of avocado trees at different stages of maturity will synchronize once they reach maturity, if the environment provides a year-round growing season. In a completely stable climate, will trees sprouted at different times of the year all produce at different times of the year, or will their blossoming/fruiting synchronize once they are all mature?

    • Tim,
      I am not sure what you mean by synchronize. The trees have more than one blossom. Some say they have five separate blossoms. I can only see four. So if the weather and other conditions are right the flowers could be polinated at different times. All the fruit from the different blossoms would be considered part of the same crop for that year.

  150. Hello Charlie,

    I live in Sunnyvale, Calif. and I’m giving-up a little more than 1000 sq. feet of lawn because my water bill over the years has increased 10 fold. I’m 65 and plan on working a few more years. I would like to tear-up my lawn and plant 9 Avocado trees in that space; 29X36.(3 rolls of 3)I would like to turn it into a hobby rather than a profit venture. Would I be better starting of with 5-gallon containers or 15 gallons ones? The other question I have is a well established nursery says plant with 2″ above ground and another nursery say 1-2 feet above. I have clay soil but I will be working in a soil amend before I dig my hole. I understand that the latter way is for areas of higher rain fall.

    Thanks,
    Steve

    • Steve,
      I prefer 5 gal containers. First they are less expensivebut often the 15 gal trees are root bound. I also prefer a small tree. My experience is that they grow faster after they are are planted. You should also be watchful of the 5 gal tree also being root bound. The trees should be planted above grade. This is especially important in your clay soil. Two inches will not give you good results. A rule of thumb is only put half of the root ball below grade. The rest of the root ball shou be covered by making a mound. It should be at least 3 feet in diameter. The top of the mound should not cover the soil material in the container. When you create the mound skim the material from the surrounding area. You don’t want to create a basin around the mound. You will defeat the purpose of the mound. Finally the centers you will be using will require annual pruning of the trees.

      Charley

  151. Dear Mr. Wolk: i am a real estate developer/home builder and i am in the process of acquiring some acreage in Escondido. there are approximately 200 acres of plantable and zoned acreage for agriculture, and i would be in the vallecitos water district. could you please share with me the approximate cost to plant per acre all in and the annual cost to maintain until productive or breakeven. the land is gentle rolling to 50% slope. thank you very much. jim stout

    • Jim,

      The current strategy for avocado planting is to go to high density. Simply stated more trees per acre. Most of the orchards planted in the 70’s were planted with 20 feet between the rows and 15 feet between the trees. The orchards I have planted recently were 15×15. One planting this year was 12×12. The trees are not allowed to grow to the typical tall heights so common in our area.

      The trees are kept low by committing to an annual pruning strategy. The smaller trees not only reduce harvesting costs but also make it easier to train labor to harvest. The smaller trees also produce more fruit because the tree is more open and the sun can get to the inside of the tree. The obvious goal with this strategy is to produce more fruit at a lower cost.

      I will give you some planning cost for development. These are truly planning or budgeting numbers. More precise numbers can be done by doing a plan specifically for the property. It will cost about $22000.00 per acre to plant a high density orchard. About $5000.00 per acre is for the irrigation system. The rest is for clearing, road grading, trees, stakes, wraps, and labor to do it all. The cost will vary if you change the spacing because you are adding or subtracting trees.

      For planning, operational costs are about $5500.00 to $7500.00 per acre per year. This would include water, fertilizer, cultural tasks, harvesting, and management. While the cost per acre stays relatively constant, where you spend the money will change. For example in the beginning you spend less on water and fertilizer but more on weed control. You should plan on having the operational expenses for five years before you get commercial production. There will be fruit on the trees quickly but not enough to warrent bringin in harvesting crews to send the fruit to a packing house.

      The production goal for the standard spacing is 10000 pounds per acre. A correctly farmed orchard of high density spacing can significantly increase that production. You can create revenue and break even scenarios by changing the production numbers and the price per pound.

      I trust this information will be helpful. If you have other questions, let me know. If you get to the point of beginning the development I am interested in working with you on this project.

      Charley Wolk

  152. Hi Charley – you visited our home to talk to my boyfriend James over a year ago about our avocado trees. We have about 15 trees on our 1/2 acre of land in Fallbrook. We are at the point that we have way too many to give to family and friends or eat ourselves. James is cutting a tree back today that he got at least 200 avocados off of. Can you help us? Is there someone we can hire to come take these or sell them to someone? We appreciate any advice you have. Thanks.
    Gretchen

    • Gretchen,
      I appreciate your problem. Unfortunately I have no easy solution. You could get a certificate from the County Ag Commissioner and sell the fruit at the Farmers Market. There is no charge for the certificate. Occasionally I have men coming to the office wanting to pick and buy small amounts of fruit. If you send me your phone number and one of them shows up I’ll try to get you hooked up.

      Charley

  153. We have been growing avos for twenty five years. Lately, we have noticed that fruit from old and young trees will have too much fibers in them, varying from year to year. These are all seedling trees.

    Do you know the factors contributing to stringiness in avos?
    Thank you in advance for your time and attention to this query.

    • Vicki< Sorry for the delay in responding. I had some technical difficulties plus my own learning curve in responding. The black streaks are caused by a number of reasons. The most common is cold damage. This would effect the fruit whether it cam from an old or young tree. Over maturity (too much oil) will have a similar impact. Especially when the over mature fruit is off the tree for a longer time before it is used. I hope this helps. Charley

  154. Dear Mr.Charley Wolk:

    I am not the avocado producer. Instead, I am interested in avocado industry because Korea is importing a lot of avocados from abroad including California. I would like to find out the production cost data if possible. How could I get the production cost data of California avocado? How could I make a visit with you? I will appreciate you for your generous answer.
    J.Park

  155. Hi there,

    You are an experienced person in avocado growing and your blog post encouraged me to ask questions.
    1- What are the best ways to grow avocado trees in pots or containers.
    2- Have you produced any pruning videos?
    Thanks for your help.
    hooshang

  156. Hi! I just got to your page after a quick search on growing Avocado. I don’t know much about this, but I am trying to learn about it as a hobby/business for my soon-to-come retirement (a bit early at 57-58!) I appreciate any link you can provide.

    Here are a few questions:
    – How difficult is it to start a grove from scratch?
    – How much land is needed? Or, what is the ratio of production per acre?
    – What is the profit margin in this business? Expense vs return?
    – How difficult is it to manage a grove?

    Thanks in advance.

    – Where is a good place? I just visited Temecula. I liked it.

    • Excuse my delay in response. Technical difficulties beginning. Starting a grove from scratch for some one new would be very difficult. Hiring it done is really only limited by the availablity of trees. The trees don’t know whether they are planted on 100 acres or 10 acres. So the size becomes one of the available capital. The goal for consistant production should be 10,000 #’s per acre. Some do better but less makes it more marginal. Without knowing what water district it is difficult to be specific. A general comment would be that operational costs will be about $5000.00 per acre. On the low end you should anticipate a minimum of $8000.00 per acre. This assumes that the grove is being farmed correctly. The answer to managing is similar to the answer to planting a new grove. Temecula is a very attractive area. Choosing the location will depend on a variety of elements.

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