At the Emerson Ranch in Tustin, we were given the opportunity to expand our farming repertoire.
This new orchard had been planted on the 90% compacted, 2:1 manufactured slopes that took up space in between the house pads. It was a brand new concept, a grove owned by an HOA. The tree roots and resultant canopy growth was severely constrained due to highly compacted soils. Special horticultural operations need to be developed and implemented to overcome this condition, which was not originally addressed during the pre-planting land preparation stage of development.
During our investigation, we dug up one of the trees and found a gnarled, bound up root mass. It became clear that the avocado roots were unable to penetrate the compacted clay and were originally planted into holes that were far too small for them to thrive. Drawing upon our experience at Yorba Linda, we decided that the best way to help these trees was to mulch extensively to create a soft new soil layer that the roots could thrive in. This mulch was designed to be a nutrient-rich recipe applied to the root zones and slope areas. The irrigation distribution system was also modified to facilitate better coverage of the root zone. After five years and two major mulch applications, the orchard had turned around. The soft new soil was a boon for the trees and they began bearing bumper crops of avocados.