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 — 245 Comments

  1. 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

  2. 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 ?

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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).

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. 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

  21. 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

  22. 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

  23. 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

  24. 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

  25. 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

  26. 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

  27. 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,

  28. 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

  29. 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

  30. 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

  31. 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

  32. 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

  33. 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

  34. 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

  35. 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

  36. 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

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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

  40. 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

  41. 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

  42. 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.

  43. 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

  44. 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

  45. 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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  46. 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

  47. 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

  48. 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

  49. 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

  50. 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

  51. 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

  52. 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

  53. 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

  54. 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?

  55. 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

  56. 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

  57. 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

  58. 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

  59. 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

  60. 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

  61. 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

  62. 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

  63. 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

  64. 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

  65. 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

  66. 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

  67. 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

  68. 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.

  69. 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

  70. 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

  71. 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

  72. 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

  73. 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

  74. 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

  75. 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

  76. 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

  77. 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.

  78. 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

  79. 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

  80. 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

  81. 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

  82. 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

  83. 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

  84. 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

  85. 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

  86. 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

  87. 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

  88. 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

  89. 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

  90. 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

  91. 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

  92. 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.

  93. 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.

  94. 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

  95. 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.

  96. 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

  97. 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

  98. 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.

  99. 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

  100. 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.

  101. 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.

  102. 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

  103. 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

  104. 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

  105. 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

  106. 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

  107. 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

  108. 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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