How and when to prune an avocado tree


The avocado, also called cayman pear, is the fruit of Persea americana of the Lauraceae family, a tree native to the western hemisphere from Mexico south to the Andean regions. Avocado fruits have a greenish or yellowish flesh with a consistency of butter and a rich nutty flavor, and it is widely used in the kitchen for salads and creams. Given its popularity, we could not stop writing an article about how and when to prune an avocado.


Note: Please note that the advice given here is general, this blog is consulted from many countries in the world, with totally different characteristics, what not all tips will be adapted in the same way in all cases. Once you finish reading the article it will be necessary to analyze all the information and apply what you have learned in the best way. If you have any questions, remember that you can contact us to make your inquiries.

1. Interesting facts about avocado


Before starting to talk about the pruning of the avocado tree I am going to leave you some interesting facts about this fruit tree, surely you will not know more than one.

  • There are more than 500 varieties of avocados in the world.
  • These trees can live for many years, for example in Mexico there are specimens with more than 400 years.
  • The avocado fruit may be pear-shaped, egg-shaped, or spherical, and the skin of the fruit may vary in texture and color.
How and when to prune an avocado tree
Avocado tree
  • Once harvested, its fruit ripens faster if it is combined with other fruits such as apples or bananas. This due to the presence of ethylene gas.
  • The avocado is a fruit with high in healthy fats and fiber and rich in vitamins and minerals, such as B-vitamins, vitamin K, potassium, copper, vitamin E and vitamin C.
  • Consuming avocados is very beneficial for health. Helping to control weight, avoiding cardiovascular diseases, reducing the risk of getting cancer, etc.
  • The word avocado is derived from an Aztec word that means testicle (probably because of the similarity with said organ).

2. What tools to use for avocado tree trimming


There are several tools that need to be used to carry out the pruning of a avocado. The choice will depend to a great extent on the type of pruning and the size of the fruit tree.

  • Pruning shears.
  • Handsaw
  • Chainsaw.
  • Ladder or scaffolding.
  • Basic safety elements such as helmet and gloves.

Keep in mind that you must disinfect all cutting tools before pruning. This will help not to transmit diseases, you will have to do it before starting the pruning and every time you change plants.

3. Why prune an avocado


All fruit trees need to be pruned for a control of the production and useful life of the plant, in the agucates is not the exception. If we want to list reasons why pruning should be carried out, we will have the following:

  • Rebalance the tree among shoots, roots and fruit.
  • Improve fruit quality, with more minerals available to the fruit.
  • Keep fruit off the ground.
  • Reduce tree size.
  • Increase ease of harvesting.
  • Develop trees with strong framework.
  • Improve pest control.
  • Improve profitability.
  • Reduce costs.
  • Restore tree vigor.
  • Most fruit hangs low, making picking easier and more productive.

The above list can continue, but I think it is more than clear the importance of pruning in avocado control and care.

4. How to prune an avocado tree


Since an avocado is transplanted until the last days of its useful life, there are several types of pruning that must be carried out. Among them you can not miss:

4.1 Pruning when transplanting avocado

This is the first pruning done in an avocado, and must be carried out once transplanted. It eliminates the terminal apical outbreak, thus promoting the generation of new outbreaks.

From the new developed bortes will be selected branches to form the structure. In other words, the main branches that should be the support of the entire plant will be defined.

4.2 Pruning of main axes

With this second pruning the avocado will be shaped. The form that can be considered ideal in fruit trees is that in the crown, with one main stem and four stems well distributed spatially. There should also be space in the center of the plant, which will allow a correct entry of air and light from the stem to the entire plant.

Once three months have elapsed since the transplant, four branches must be chosen, which must be equidistantly distributed. For a good orientation you can take the cardinal axes. The strongest and healthiest branches should be selected, the rest should be trim.

Pruning of main axes in avocado
Pruning of main axes in avocado

During this pruning, it is necessary to look for the good formation of these principal axes, and also that all branches develop towards the exterior. All that branch that grows inside the avocado should be trimmed. These cuts will also give new budgets.

To finish we indicated the importance of carrying out this pruning of the avocado in its first stage. If carried out in a highly developed plant, large and damaging cuts will be made.

4.3 Pruning of low branches

As its name indicates in this anual pruning of the aguacte what is sought is to eliminate branches too low, that is, close to the ground.

There are two really important reasons why this pruning is carried out, and they are the following:

  • When they are in production, with several fruits developed in the branch, it will fold leaving many fruits touching the ground. These fruits in contact with the earth will surely generate fungi and / or stains, this makes them disposable in the harvest.
  • Cutting low branches in the avocado will allow a better circulation of air and light in the lower part of the stem, thus avoiding the generation of fungi and diseases.

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4.4 Avocado cleaning pruning

This is a classic pruning in all fruit trees, having to cut all the dry and / or diseased branches, which must be done without exception on an annual basis.

The need to carry it out may come from the widespread attack of some plague. Understanding that trimming the branches is the only way to save the plant. It can also occur for the simple aesthetic reason of removing a dry branch, or by removing broken branches after a storm. In all those cases, what we will be doing is pruning the avocado.

If you trim branches of an important thickness, do not forget to place a healing paste. This will protect the plant from the entrance of any pest, such as fungal diseases. Another key to avoid the entrance of this type of diseases is to make the inclined cuts. Since it does not allow water to remain in the cut.

4.5 Thinning pruning

From the moment the avocado begins to be productive this pruning will be necessary. It should cut all branches that have gone into the plant, in addition to suckers and branches demaciado vert.

Like many of the prunings in this one, a better circulation of air and light is sought, thus improving the health of the plant.

4.6 Rejuvenation pruning

The pruning that needs to be done on aged plants is a pruning of rejuvenation. Since it is a strong pruning, which has no reverse, this should be our last resort.

The symptoms that an avocado tree presents that needs a rejuvenation pruning are; low growth rate, deficiency in flowering and excessive unproductive wood.

Rejuvenation pruning avocado
Rejuvenation pruning avocado

The way to carry out this pruning is to eliminate aged thick branches, cutting them not flush but a few centimeters, this will facilitate the emission of new shoots of replacement, to continue the production of fruit.

In case our long-lived avocado does not have any branch in conditions to replace the main stem, they should all be cut like the previous image.

Be aware of placing scar tissue on all cuts in this pruning.

5. When to prune an avocado tree


In principle, the right time to prune an avocado will depend on the type of pruning:

  • Pruning when transplanting avocado: His name makes it very clear, it should be pruned to the monento of the transplant.
  • Pruning of main axes: In tropical areas this pruning should preferably be done in the seasons of less rain, thus avoiding cuts to high humidity. While in temperate zones it must be done at the beginning of winter.
  • Pruning of low branches: The same principles should be applied to the pruning of main axes.
  • Avocado cleaning pruning: Any time is good for cleaning pruning.
  • Thinning pruning: this pruning of the avocado must be done when the fruits begin to take shape, after flowering.
  • Rejuvenation pruning: The same principles should be applied to the pruning of main axes.

On the other hand it is good to remember the following general tips to choose the right time to prune your avocado.

  • Best time to cut back is spring, to achieve good regrowth.
  • Pruning between January and May promotes shoot‐flush presence during fruit set, early fruit development through August and delays leaf hardening.
  • Leaf hardening causes avocado Thrips to move to the fruit; therefore, certain pruning times may increase availability of new leaves that avocado Thrips feed on, possibly increasing Thrips population.
  • The timing of summer pruning affects the length of regrowth and, ultimately, increases tree size.

6. General tips on avocado pruning


In case you have had doubts about how to prune an avocado here I leave you general guidelines, follow them and at least you will not commit serious errors:

  • Push light into the tree interior, by cutting “windows” in the canopy.
  • Space the main limbs 3‐to‐4 feet apart, to allow access inside the tree.
  • Eliminate ‘v‐type’ crotches, as these are mechanically weak and prone to developing rots.
  • Make major cuts clean, and in line, with trunk contour.
  • Pruning needs to balance the side‐shoot growth and remove strong, upright water shoots, in order to achieve a good central‐leader shape (if this is desired)
  • Constant attention to pruning detail, with small cuts at the correct time, minimizes need for additional major pruning cuts.
  • Avoid horizontal branches developing low to the ground, as these interfere with tree access.
  • Trees grown on slopes should be pruned to a lower height than trees on flat land.
  • Rejuvenation can require cutting the tree back to the main trunk; however, don’t expect production in the second year.
  • Remove dead wood, as far as possible.
  • When renovating a grove, aim to remove large, interfering – and low‐lying – laterals, badly crossed limbs and spilt crotches.

7. Trimming avocado – Video


To close the post we leave a video of the Fairchild Garden channel, where you can graphically understand several things that we saw so far. I hope it helps you. 🙂

Well up to here we have arrived with this article in which we talked about how and when to prune an avocado tree. I hope you have no doubt when you should take your scissors and get to work. 😉

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