Fruit Drop from Avocado Tree

Gardening Question from Deborah:

My bacon avocado tree has been droping fruit off the tree the last couple of weeks, and (does not) ripen until nov., the beginning of dec. I don’t know what the problem is. Thought maybe you could help?

Answer from Pat:

Summer drop of immature fruit is normal on avocado. Some varieties drop fruit in June, others drop in July and August. Fruit drop, called abcission, is a natural process since the tree sets more fruit than it can support. Reed avocado has a “A” type flower and needs to cross pollinate with a “B” type flower such as ‘Bacon’. If you live in an area where many neighbors grow avocado, no problem. If not, attend a meeting of the Rare Fruit Growers and see if you can get someone to graft a branch of the other type onto your tree. This can help your tree bear fruit that sticks on the tree. Lack of bees when flowers are on the tree can also be a problem.

However, if all the fruit suddenly fell off the tree at once, then you have a problem. If you ever cultivate under an avocado, it will drop all it’s fruit. If you have a hired gardener tell him never to rake up the leaves under the avocado. They look messy but must be left to lie on the ground under the tree. Regular fertilizing beginning in February—see my book beginning of February for detailed instructions—, deep watering, and a thick layer of mulch takes care of any problems. Switching to drip, lack of water, or quick swings in temperatures in late winter and spring can sometimes cause more than the usual numbers of fruit to drop off, but raking under, or digging or cultivating is the usual cause of serious fruit drop. If plenty of fruit stays on the tree, you don’t have a problem. Just pick up and compost the fruit that falls.

Comments

  1. I have 4 mature Bacon Avacado trees. One has dropped about 80% + of it’s fruit during the past 30 days. The other three trees have not and appear to be a normal season. All are treated the same, no leaf raking or competing plantings. The dropped fruit appears to be normal at about 2″ and falling day and night. We’ve lost several hundreds in the last two weeks (500 or more). We usually have mature fruit from mid Nov through April. Any ideas? It is not normal. Is there a disease or pest that could do this.

    • Some fruit drop in summer of immature fruit from ‘Bacon’ avocado trees is totally normal, but when one tree drops more than others this might point to another problem, such as a cold spot and sudden cold weather which might have actually happened earlier on, or a gopher, though usually a gopher will also cause a tree to wilt. Very often it will be just one side of a tree. I had a friend who was a grower who told me root damage from gophers can cause fruit drop worse than normal. So I am writing back quickly to make sure you check the ground for a gopher hole or mound and if you find a mound, set a “Black Hole” trap according to package directions soon as possible.

      Also make sure your water system is working correctly and that all the trees have been fed the same as well. The tree just may think it is carrying far more fruit than it can bring to maturity. Bacon avocados are large and heavy fruits and just a few of them per branch is a lot. If you end up with huge avocados you won’t feel so badly that you have lost many smaller immature ones. Also, we can’t always figure out all the reasons for things. Good luck with it and if you don’t find a gopher don’t worry about the fruit drop.

  2. David Paulison

    My simmonds avacado is dropping its fruit while it is thumb size. The fruit develops a large black spot before dropping. My Hass and Lulu seems to be holding most of their fruit. Any ideas?

    • I have already addressed possible causes of fruit drop, which might be completely natural. Could the soil have gone dry? Or did the tree set more fruit than it can support? Lack of cross pollination (which is not totally necessary but can increase fruit set) is most likely not the culprit. Black spots on your Simmons avocados might be caused by insect attack or by rotting from fungus. If the tree is not in full sun, fruit might be damp, which can lead fungus problems. Here is a site with photos that might help you identify the problem. http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/C008/m008fpfrtdmg.html

  3. It was about mid October on the east coast of Florida we bought an Avocado Tree which was about 4+ feet. We cut a 2ft diameter circle off side in the lawn. Around the end of Feb. the tree exploded with florers of which, by count had 35 small fruits the size of peas. Here it is end of may and half the fruits fell with others remaining with the size of 3 1/3 to 4″. During that period of time the grass is in contact with the trunk. I am afraid to pull the grass out around the area but kind a know grass shouldn’t have been in the area. Any thoughts?

  4. I have a good size (12 foot) Hass. It looks very healthy and had many small fruits. We had 3 very hot days(100 degree) and almost all of the fruit dropped. I may have 4 left. Under the tree is a bed of Christmas apple is this harmful or will it just help retain moisture? I am afraid to remove it. I do not have a companion avocado tree but I live in North San Diego County (Oceanside) and avocados are plentiful in the area but I am not sure how close.
    If I do get another tree what variety would be best?

  5. I have a 17 year old, 18 ft tall Hass Avocado tree, The fruits are currently as big as walnuts and are dropping at an alarming rates. Dropping fruits have a short stem less than 1/2 inch long with them. I have tried spraying sulfur fungicide along with insecticide – Monocrotophos 36% (36 percent)properly diluting in water. Does not appear to help.
    Also half of the fruits get a few peppercorn size stones in the flesh at the maturity time.

    • Don’t spray insecticides on the tree. Most likely the problem was caused by drought or some stress to roots, such as disturbance of the root zone. See what I have already written on fruit drop from avocado. Fertilize adequately in February and see that the root zone is always moist with good drainage and well mulched. Do not disturb the root zone under the canopy of the tree or all fruit will fall off.

  6. The same is happening to my avocado tree, a lot of them fall but not all so maybe I don’t have a problem. Thanks.

  7. my avocado tree has a lot of fruit on it ,but unfortunately some of the fruits are splitting and of course falling. We have experience a very bad drought here in tampa for few months. my avocado tree is from THE wEST iNDIES big fruits and very dry when ready. I am just so saddened to see all the fruits on the ground .Pat can you help me with any suggestions?? tks

    • I sympathize with your problem with falling and splitting fruit. I suggest picking them up and enclosing them in brown paper sacks in a cool place, such as the garage. They might ripen and might be still edible in which case you could share the bounty with friends and neighbors.

      But as to why this happened, unfortunately it is the problem of uneven moisture in the ground. The next time you have a severe drought be sure to irrigate the ground under the canopy of your avocado in order to keep the earth evenly moist. If allowed to go very dry or to go through contrasting wet/dry periods, then the same thing will happen all over again.

  8. Hi Pat…Adele from Solana Beach, CA. My Haas which has been a decent producer of nice sized and nice tasting fruit in the past had lost a lot of its leaves over the summer and now the small (2-3in) fruits are softening but not dropping. I’d appreciate your thoughts please. Thank you.

    • When avocado trees lose leaves, one thought is mites. So check for mite damage. Another problem is lack of adequate fertilizer and that can affect the size of the fruit as well. I am an organic gardener but the old rules still apply. Often people who use organic fertilizers fail to give trees adequate nitrogen because there is so little nitrogen in the product they are using. A mature avocado tree needs 2 pounds of actual nitrogen per year. Read the label on your fertilizer and see how much actual nitrogen it contains. When you use a product with 25 % nitrogen that means you need to feed 8 pounds of that product to the tree per year. Organic products usually contain a lot less than 25% nitrogen. As for the soft fruit, inadequate shade or swings in weather from cool to hot can cause fruit to soften or rot on the tree. If the tree were adequately fed, the fruit would be larger and better able to stand up to sudden temperature swings.

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