What is the Recommended Spacing in Hass Avocado Farming?

At full maturity, that is in about 7 or more years, Hass avocado trees can grow really wide, covering up to 8m if well irrigated and fed. This size of the tree is what advices the spacing, so we would typically say 8x8m is the ideal spacing for Hass avocado. However, as I have mentioned, it takes a long time for the trees to get here – 7 years is indeed a long time bearing in mind that the trees start fruiting in the second year after transplanting.

hass avocado trees at 2 years
2 years old avocado trees covering just just about 2m space per tree

What would you be doing with that space between the trees before that time? Well, if you choose to intercrop your avocado trees with shorter term crops, then that would be perfect. But if you are raising a pure stand avocado orchard, then that space is going to be a waste for a long time, exposing the ground to the open sun hence excessive evaporation, not to mention the weed menace. So, shall we make better use of that space by planting more avocado trees? Definitely! But is it wise to do so?

The commercial 3x4m spacing

Commercial farms actually start out their Hass avocado orchards with a spacing of 3m between the plants and 4m from line to line. There is absolutely no harm of doing this. It actually gives you a huge economic benefit.

Look at this; if you start out with the 3x4m spacing, you will be having 330 trees in one acre all bearing fruits from the second year. You enjoy the sales while the trees continue to grow. By the 3rd year, the trees are forming a nice canopy bringing down the rate of evaporation and weed growth – advantage! In the meantime, the farmer who started out with the 8x8m spacing has only 60 avocado trees in an acre, giving the same number of fruits per tree as the trees in the other farm with 330 trees.  

The trees will compete for soil nutrients and caused reduced production!

Yes, that is true but only if you let it happen. It is paramount that you prepare for this from the very onset. The secret to solving this potential challenge is as obvious as it sounds: replenish the soil nutrients generously. A bucket of goat or cow manure for each tree every 3-4 months will make the trees so happy and productive. You can choose to be a better farmer for them and do regular soil tests to establish whether there is a particular nutrient that is draining faster and find ways of replenishing that specifically.

hass avocado trees intercropping
Hass avocado trees intercropped with beans: this helps to replenish nitrogen in the soil

But how do you control the trees from becoming too bushy and causing fungal diseases and reduced productivity?

The answer first lies in pruning. A Hass avocado farmer who has chosen to go commercial and use the 3x4m spacing must be keen on pruning to ensure that the free flow of air and the penetration of sunlight is not compromised. However, as you already guessed, the trees will soon outgrow the farmers effort of pruning as the branches widen. It is at this point that the second intervention becomes necessary: that is thinning.

What? Cut down fully grown fruiting trees?

Yes, why not? Your aim is to raise the most profitable Hass avocado farm. It would have taken you 3-4 productive years to get to this stage. During this time, each of these trees were giving you optimum yields and the money you pocketed from them has no comparison to the cost of planting and bringing them up. You have made a profit!

So, how’s the thinning done?

There’s no fixed formula for this since as the farmer, you will be able to observe the trees that are becoming overcrowded and less productive. Cut down the non-productive one. However, the cutting down shouldn’t also be done haphazardly. You should do this with an aim of achieving a specific kind of spacing. I would recommend removing the trees in the line so that we achieve a spacing of 6m from tree to tree. That brings us to a 6x4m spacing which can exist till full maturity.

However, if the trees grow rapidly, you may think of removing the centre lines so as to achieve a spacing of 8m between the lines. This brings us to the 6x8m spacing that I would recommend. All this while, never overlook the importance of testing and replenishing the soil nutrients through application of fertilizers and of course, giving the plants sufficient water.

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