Avocados, are scientifically known as Persea americana, belong to the flowering plant family Lauraceae. They are native to Central and South America and Mexico, but are cultivated in many tropical and subtropical regions too. They are also known as alligator pears, and are commonly used in desserts, salads, dips, and shakes in many parts of the world. They were once considered as a luxury food reserved for the tables of royalty, but now they are enjoyed by people all around the world.
In Brazil, avocados are also added to ice-creams to impart a unique flavor. I'm sure, by now you must be knowing that it is a fruit and not a vegetable. They are bought by nearly 43% of US households and added in a variety of recipes. Have you ever thought of growing the trees in your backyard? Planting one is easy and can be enjoyed by people irrespective of ages. It can be a fun project for the entire family or it could also be taken as a class project in school.
Avocado trees are fairly tough, and some varieties grow up to a height of 60 feet. They take around 10 to 15 years to mature and bear fruits. One tree produces between 150 to 500 fruits per year. They cannot tolerate soggy conditions and require well drained soil. They cannot tolerate cold temperatures and frost sets. A lot of external problems like animals, insects, and diseases can harm the trees.
Phytophthora Root Rot
Phytophtora root rot, also known as collar rot, is a type of fungal disease that is caused by the soil fungus Phytophthora cinnamomi, which originates below ground level. The fungus infects the roots and causes the feeder roots to become black and brittle. The infection can also develop trunk cankers that appear around the trunk base or near the infected area. This disease is highly infectious and is not treatable. However, it can be controlled by cutting off the infected tissue, if detected at an early stage.
Anthracnose Fruit Rot
This is another fungal disease caused by the fungus Colletotrichum gloeosporioides. The young stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits are infected by this fungus and start to decay. Dark sunken spots appear on the infected fruit, which spread rapidly in the surrounding areas. Regular application of fungicides can effectively treat anthracnose fruit rot and prevent the disease.
Powdery Mildew
Powdery mildew frequently affects these trees and can become severe if it is not treated at the right time. It results in the formation of dark green or purplish brown spots on the lower sides of the leaves and yellowish green spots on the upper side, followed by a white or gray powdery growth. Spraying the leaves by a fungicide approved for powdery mildew can help in controlling this infection.
Avocado Black Streak
This disease is characterized by the black streaks on the trunk and young branches, yellowing of leaves, and poor fruit production. It may cause cankers or lesions and result in serious problems to the tree. Proper irrigation and soil fumigation can be an effective measure to prevent the disease.
This viral disease is caused by a sunblotch viroid. Colored streaks or spots appear on the bark and fruits, and the leaves may develop white or yellow mottles. This disease commonly spreads through infected seeds, and hence seeds from propagation sources that are certified free of sunblotch must be used.
Other pests such as mites, ants, beetles, snails, etc., can be kept a bay by using specific pesticides, available in the market. Avocado trees can also fall prey to damage by sun, frost, or nutritional diseases. Hence, it is very important to be well acquainted with the several avocado tree problems before planting one.