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A forum to exchange scions between Cloudforest members. Requests and offers for all scions, including tropical scions can be posted here.

Top-working young, damaged Avocado tree. Reed scion please?

Postby Smarteapantz » Wed Nov 05, 2014 4:01 am

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Smarteapantz
 
Posts: 33
Joined: Thu Oct 17, 2013 2:11 pm
Location: San Jose, CA
Climate Zone: Sunset Zone 15, USDA Zone 9b
Hi, this is my first post here in the Cloudforest. Hoping the community can help me with some advice, and maybe a scion or two?

In August of 2013, my sisters and I bought a small 15-gallon Lamb Hass Avocado tree for $150 (quite the investment) that was already fruiting. It was about 5 feet tall. Unfortunately, it was heavily damaged during the frost that hit last winter.

In the spring, I pruned off most of the dead parts, and then the tree self-pruned/dropped all of its upper branches. The only part of it that's still growing is in the bottom 2 feet, so now it looks like a sprawling bush with a 5-foot stake sticking out of the top.

It did have a few buds sprout at the top of the tree, but each of them shriveled and dropped off eventually. We're glad that the tree is still showing signs of life, but we don't know what to do at this point to get this tree back into shape. I've been researching grafting, and am thinking I should lob off the top portion of the tree (which still has some frost-damage) and graft on some scions to promote upward growth.

Is this a good idea? Also, since I will be trying my hand at grafting for the first time, is there anyone who can spare me a scion of Reed to add to my tree?

To trade, I have: Lamb Hass, Fuyu Persimmon, Wonderful Pomegranate, Lemon Guava, and Tropic White Guava (though I've never managed to make it fruit in the 7 years since it was planted).

Thanks to anyone who can help! :)
- Sandy (in San Jose, CA)

Re: Top-working young, damaged Avocado tree. Reed scion plea

Postby HoangNguyen » Fri Nov 07, 2014 1:53 pm

HoangNguyen
 
Posts: 85
Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 12:06 pm
Location: San Jose
Climate Zone: 9b
Sandy, it is not good idea to graft on your weak avocado tree. You will kill both scion and your lamb hass. It seems to me your lamb hass has root rotten. Your lamb hass is in the ground, isn't it? I had killed several grafted avocado trees which I bought from homedepot and lowes. I know the feeling.

Re: Top-working young, damaged Avocado tree. Reed scion plea

Postby Smarteapantz » Sat Nov 08, 2014 8:40 am

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Smarteapantz
 
Posts: 33
Joined: Thu Oct 17, 2013 2:11 pm
Location: San Jose, CA
Climate Zone: Sunset Zone 15, USDA Zone 9b
Hi Hoang, thanks for your input. Well, I don't think the tree has root rot. Like I said, the bottom 2 feet of the tree is thriving. There are many branches and lush green leaves. It is a mature grafted avocado tree I special ordered from God's Little Acre Nursery (much bigger than the ones from Home Depot and Lowes), and it was doing quite well until the freeze that hit California last winter. All the growth is above the graft line, so I know the original graft isn't dead. The trunk is about 2 inches thick, but part of the upper bark (the side facing the morning sun) is dead and black, which again, is a result of the damage from last year's freeze (frosty temps + direct morning sun = tissue damage). I don't know how to fix it other then topworking the tree next spring (after it's had a full year to recover). Any suggestions?

Re: Top-working young, damaged Avocado tree. Reed scion plea

Postby barathr » Sat Nov 08, 2014 9:05 am

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Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2014 3:27 pm
Location: East Bay, CA
Climate Zone: 10a
If you're in San Jose, I'd suggest not going with Reed -- it's not hardy enough. I gambled and planted a Queen for a relative in San Jose and despite getting covered during that December frost it died. I took that as a sign and planted a Fuerte in its place, which itself is still a bit of a gamble, since it's only hardy to about 25 F. The healthiest and largest Avocado I've seen in the South Bay is a giant Mexicola tree that produces more fruit than anyone can eat -- it's probably never been injured by frost.

Also, while it's tempting to plant a larger tree from a #15 pot, I've found that the trees are healthier when planted in the ground smaller / younger (in a #5 or smaller).

Re: Top-working young, damaged Avocado tree. Reed scion plea

Postby Smarteapantz » Sun Nov 09, 2014 6:45 am

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Smarteapantz
 
Posts: 33
Joined: Thu Oct 17, 2013 2:11 pm
Location: San Jose, CA
Climate Zone: Sunset Zone 15, USDA Zone 9b
Hi Barathr, last winter in California was tough on everyone. I knew someone who completely re-landscaped their back yard that autumn, and then lost 75% percent of everything they had planted to the frost. For me, my deciduous trees (persimmon and pomegranates) were champions left alone, but the evergreens (avocado, citrus, guava, cherimoya) all had to be covered. Even still, they took a lot of damage and spent this year recovering. (All survived, except the cherimoya -- poor thing).

I know that the Mexican varieties of avocado are more cold-hardy, but we picked the Lamb Hass because it's semi-dwarf and is supposed to taste good. We skipped to the #15 because it was already fruitful, and we didn't want to wait more years for the small #5 or #10 saplings to get to that point. Also, I've heard rave reviews about the buttery taste of Reed, and I really want to add that to my garden.

Our next-door neighbor has a giant Fuerte tree in his back yard that produces massive fruit. Many of its outer leaves burned during the frost, but it shed them and rebounded quickly come springtime. It's a beautiful tree. I wouldn't be discouraged about planting less hardy Avo varieties if I were you. Every few years, California gets hit with a freeze, and any newly planted trees just have bad timing and bad luck. But once a tree has had a chance to mature, I don't think it will have any problems being "hardy" enough to withstand the next freezes that may come.

(Hoping this winter will be a mild one, so my trees can catch a break!) :)

Re: Top-working young, damaged Avocado tree. Reed scion plea

Postby barathr » Sun Nov 09, 2014 10:27 am

barathr
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Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2014 3:27 pm
Location: East Bay, CA
Climate Zone: 10a
Sure, I agree. I mostly meant for San Jose that Reed might be tough going. But if you're willing to give it protection regularly then it's worth trying -- I just can't expect friends and family for whom I plant trees to watch the forecasts closely and cover the trees every winter. I haven't been discouraged here in Berkeley, because we're lucky that we rarely get cold enough to kill Avocados -- we only hit 30 F during the December frost, so none of the less hardy Avocados took a hit.

Re: Top-working young, damaged Avocado tree. Reed scion plea

Postby RobertS » Sun Nov 09, 2014 10:36 am

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Smarteapantz, I have many avocado's that I'm trying to grow and keep alive on Central Coast of Calif. (Arroyo Grande) and I had a lot of damage last year too. In my opinion ( hard to tell without pic) I would cut back trunk below any freeze damage and most of all paint trunk and exposed limps with white water based paint thinned 50% to keep from sun burn. Then I would leave the tree alone let it regrow some and next year you can top work some new upright branches to any variety you want to try. Best of luck ;)

Re: Top-working young, damaged Avocado tree. Reed scion plea

Postby Smarteapantz » Mon Nov 10, 2014 3:37 am

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Smarteapantz
 
Posts: 33
Joined: Thu Oct 17, 2013 2:11 pm
Location: San Jose, CA
Climate Zone: Sunset Zone 15, USDA Zone 9b
Hi RobertS, thanks for your input, too. All the major branches of my tree were painted white shortly after planting it last summer. That helped prevent sunburns, but not against the shock of frost and the abrupt warmth of the morning sun during the winter freeze.

I waited until spring to prune off all the parts that appeared to be damaged. But as this year progressed, more and more of the parts that I thought were salvageable were being pruned off naturally by the tree. (In nature, trees can self-prune by cutting off nutrients to undesirable or damaged limbs, which makes them drop off naturally). My avocado tree has been progressively doing that.

So yesterday, after inspecting the tree again, I found a clear dark ring about 2.5 feet up around the trunk , above which there has been no growth, that wasn't obvious before. I think that the tree has decided to prune off the entire top part of it's trunk because of the old frost-damaged tissue there.

Immediately below the ring is a nice solid lateral branch. So after taking in everyone's input and assessing the tree's natural inclinations, I decided that this is what I'm going to do: I'm going to train the top lateral branch to become the new central leader, and come next spring, I'm going to lob off the top dead portion of the old trunk. At which point, I would like to see if I can graft on a Reed scion to the new cut, and then grow it as singular branch, just for variety.

The idea of having a chimera (2-in-1) avocado tree is a dream of mine. :D

Thanks for everyone's suggestions and help. I will put an update here next year after my grafting experiment to let you guys know how it turns out.

All I still need now, though, is someone with a mature Reed who is willing to purvey me with a scion come next spring time. *hint, hint* ;)

Keeping my fingers crossed,
Sandy
Attachments
Avocado tree 11-14.JPG
This is my 4 ft. Lamb Hass, with a top lateral branch being trained to become the new main trunk.
Avocado tree 11-14.JPG (1.46 MiB) Viewed 2181 times

Re: Top-working young, damaged Avocado tree. Reed scion plea

Postby HoangNguyen » Mon Nov 10, 2014 7:24 pm

HoangNguyen
 
Posts: 85
Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 12:06 pm
Location: San Jose
Climate Zone: 9b
Hi Sandy, by the picture, your lamb hass avocado still looks very good. Is the picture recently taken? Mine were different. My avocados lived through the first winter (not too cold like last year winter.) Their main trunks got black and died. There were a couple lateral branches still alive but didn't grow anything. later, a few new shoots came out from the main trunk about 1 foot above the graft. When they were about 3 inches, their young leaves got tip burn and fell off. At the same time, the old lateral branches got black and fell off too, and they died in second winter.

I also live in San Jose. Last year, my hass avocado got cold burn so bad (That's why it only gives me 3 fruits this year.) but it recovered really fast. I prefer good taste avocado than cold hardy avocado. Good luck.

Re: Top-working young, damaged Avocado tree. Reed scion plea

Postby Smarteapantz » Tue Nov 11, 2014 4:30 am

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Smarteapantz
 
Posts: 33
Joined: Thu Oct 17, 2013 2:11 pm
Location: San Jose, CA
Climate Zone: Sunset Zone 15, USDA Zone 9b
Hoang, yes that picture was taken just 3 days ago. The growth you see at the top is misleading because it's just the lateral branch turned upwards. (That's why all its leaves look upside-down). I'm regretting not taking a picture of the tree before I did that, but you can get the idea. Again, I think we can rule out root rot because the bottom is still very lush. To the left of the stake is the barren, damaged top trunk, which will be cut off next spring. By the way, Hoang, how are the Hass avocados from your tree? Are they buttery? I like avos with a really high oil content.

Barathr, I'm jealous of your coastal temperate weather. Being in the valley protects us from the fog, but it's not "climate controlled" like it is near the water. I hear that even Santa Cruz has it's own "Banana Belt" micro-climate where they can grow bananas, cherimoya, papaya, passion fruit, and pineapple. Makes my thumb green with envy. :) hehe. But I admire that you plant trees for your friends and family. I do that, too. I enjoy doing research on different varieties, and they always appreciate what I pick out for them. For myself, I kinda like the challenge of growing exotic (and usually more difficult) fruit trees just to see if I can do it. I'm still keeping an eye out for my next Cherimoya tree to replace the one that died last winter.

Anyway, it's just nice to be able to talk about gardening with other enthusiasts. :)

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