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Avocados Dropping Off the Tree

GARDENING Q&A

November 27, 1994|JACK E. CHRISTENSEN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

QUESTION: We have two perplexing problems in our garden.(1) Last year our mature avocado tree produced lots of fruit. However, this year we have only a few avocados because tons of immature ones are dropping off, even though we fed the tree. Why is this happening, and what can we do about it? (2) Also, for the second year in a row we have planted tomatoes with very little success. We have a jungle of twelve overgrown tomato plants in direct sunlight, but no tomatoes. Can you help?

ANSWER: In general, it is normal for avocado trees to produce crops in cycles, heavy one year and light the next. Regular feeding, especially with a high nitrogen plant food, however, tends to increase fruit drop and make the problem worse. The best way to minimize this problem in the future is to feed only lightly, once a year in late winter, with a high-phosphorus formula such as 6-10-4. Better luck next year!

It sounds like your tomatoes are getting too much water and too much plant food. It may be late now to expect any fruit this season, but if the winter is mild, your plants will probably survive into next spring. If they do, do not feed them at all, and water them only when they begin to wilt. That'll make them produce like crazy! Remember that when tomato plants are too comfortable or contented, they will just grow and grow; it takes a good scare--a real threat to their life, in fact--to get them to be productive!

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