What should I do with avocado trees damaged by frost. Will they grow back?
Richard from Arroyo Grande, CA
I'm afraid only time will tell for sure, but unless you're talking about severe, prolonged frost damage, most mature avocado trees will bounce back just fine. Fruit and foliage damage is likely to be unsightly, but not fatal. The leaves will either slowly regain their vigor or dry up and remain on the tree. As long as the twigs and branches are not seriously damaged, you can expect the trees to shed any collapsed leaves fairly quickly. This is actually a good sign and means you can look forward to a new flush of leaves. About the only protective measure you can take after trees have suffered frost damage is to coat them with a whitewash. This is done because twigs and branches can be more susceptible to sunburn after the trees shed their leaves. Whatever you do, avoid pruning dead and damaged branches until the tree has finished recovering. Premature pruning can delay its recovery, and if done prematurely, you'll probably end up doing it again anyway. Also be careful not to over water. Less leaves mean less evaporation and therefore the need for less water. Avoid fertilizers high in nitrogen until the trees have regained some balance. Keep your eyes open for minor nutrient deficiencies (zinc, manganese, copper and iron) that can develop as a result of frost damage.
Give them a chance. Hang on to them until spring then trim them back a ways and see if they will regrow. If it was only a frost, the roots should not be harmed, only the greenery. So waiting it out would be your best bet.
Hope it helps,