Irrigation Tools and Strategies for Avocados

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Southern California avocado growing regions face uncertain water supplies, mandatory reductions of water use and the rising cost of water, making efficient use of irrigation water one of the highest conservation priorities (photo by A. Montazar.)


With funding from CDFA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, UCCE Irrigation and Water Management Advisor Ali Montazar will work on development of irrigation tools and strategies for avocado growers in Southern California.

Montazar, who works with growers in Imperial, Riverside and San Diego counties, said avocado growers in Southern California face uncertain water supplies and mandatory reductions in water use. Improved irrigation and water use efficiency are critical to sustainable avocado production. Efficient use of irrigation water is one of the highest conservation priorities, he added. Proper irrigation management is also crucial to managing tree nutrition as well as preventing Phytophthora cinnamomi or avocado root rot.

Avocado water demand may vary depending on canopy features, row orientation, weather, soil types and conditions, and irrigation practices. Different avocado varieties do not necessarily have different water demands while they might have different responses to water or salinity stress. The negative impact of stress can be different for different varieties.

Montazar said one of the main purposes of this study is to develop information on avocado water demands under different conditions. Deficit irrigation trials will be used to see responses in fruit quality and quantity.

New tools and resources developed in this project will help growers achieve water use efficiency goals, Montazar said.

The research team is collaboratively working with California Avocado Commission and several growers. In this project, a combination of field experiments, case studies and a robust outreach program are used to develop and disseminate information and tools to growers and stakeholders. These tools and information may have a significant impact on water quality and quantity issues, Montazar said, bolstering the economic sustainability of avocado production not only in the well-established production region of Southern California, but also in Kern and Tulare counties where new avocado plantings are growing.