Pruning Avocado Trees

We are always asked about pruning Avocado trees. We have found a lot of useful information for our Maui Gardeners over the years and have included links to what we think will be helpful for you to learn about pruning your trees.

Training and pruning avocado trees #

Young avocado trees should not require extensive pruning. Whenever possible, allow trees to develop naturally. Be sure to prune off any suckers that arise below the graft or bud union.

Avocados require early training. Terminal shoots should be pinched beginning the second growing season and continuing until the tree is properly shaped to promote lateral growth. If upright-growing varieties are not trained early, they tend to grow too high and the fruit develops in the upper two-thirds of the tree, making harvest difficult. Training early will help restrict the tree’s height, and fruit will be produced closer to the ground and more evenly throughout the tree.

Pruning and thinning are not required to keep avocado trees productive or attractive. If you do prune to keep trees smaller or more confined, the ideal time is just before bloom or just after fruit set. That way the tree can naturally adjust its fruit load during the June drop. Minor pruning can be done at any time, but avoid late-season pruning, which can stimulate excessive tender growth that is likely to be injured by frost. Prune sparingly and remove as little green wood and as few green leaves as possible. Protect any exposed branches after pruning from sunburn by painting with a 50:50 white latex paint and water mixture.

avocado pruning
Prune off suckers and terminal shoots

Prune to Reduce Pest Damage and to Manage Tree Growth #

Remove dead limbs and old fruit, possible sources of canker and fruit rot pathogens, at least once per tree every year, usually during fall. Periodically thin canopies to reduce disease-favoring humidity and increase mortality of certain invertebrate pests.

  • If anthracnose or fruit rots were problems in the grove in previous seasons on fruit after harvest, prune low branches to remove disease inoculum.
  • Skirt prune trees:
    • Reduce spores splashing from soil to infect fruit, especially if weather has been wet.
    • Exclude flightless invertebrates from trees by pruning in combination with barriers or other treatments.
    • Reduce access to trees by certain vertebrate pests.
  • Prune and thin to reduce protected sites and minimize canopy bridges that facilitate insect movement between trees, thereby reducing the abundance of caterpillars, greenhouse thrips, and mealybugs.
  • Do not prune or pick fruit when plants are wet.
  • Clean and disinfect cutting tools before working on a new tree, to reduce mechanical spread of pathogens and infection of wounds.

Here are a couple of documents from the California Avocado Commission that details how and when to prune your trees.


Here is a helpful site for all things Avocado.  This is a free, virtual library of avocado knowledge.

JRS – 3.28.23

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