Managing avocado with less water in the Mallee

Irrigators faced with reduced water allocations will need to make a range of decisions including:

  • the purchase of additional water (at a likely elevated value);
  • prioritise water onto preferred patches;
  • giving other patches reduced volumes with consequent reductions in production;
  • abandoning poorly performing patches, and
  • possibly removing plantings of lowest priority and bringing forward redevelopment plans.

The success of a reduced irrigation strategy must consider the impacts in both the current season and subsequent seasons. This is particularly the case with avocados, as the effects of inadequate moisture are not temporary. A survival mechanism exists where moisture stress leads to blockages in the tree’s water conducting tissues until new conductive tissue is grown. (often termed ‘drought memory’). Water movement can be reduced for up to two years after the stress period has occurred.

This factsheet covers options for managing your almond trees with a reduced water allocation as well as describing the experiences of avocado growers from Merbein, Victoria and Trentham Cliffs, NSW, who faced limited water availability in the 2007/08 season.

Topics covered include:

  • water requirements
  • deficit irrigation
  • water saving practices (immediate and longer-term strategies, young tree management, canopy reduction)
  • water budget planning


Page last updated: 30 Nov 2023