Avocado Root Rot Plaguing NY Metro?

Avocado trees growing in Metro NY?! No, that’s not what I mean. It’s challenging enough growing avocados in So. California. So, let me explain.

As you know, I live in California’s avocado country with 300 avocado trees. But I hale from Brooklyn, NY. I guess you could say, Metro NY holds some of my deepest roots. As any farmer (or urban dweller familiar with houseplants) knows, all living things languish when their roots are neglected.  The same goes for people. Hence, my recent and periodic odysseys to my birthplace, Metro NY.

A plane ride from Metro NY to So. California gives a person time to reflect upon some unspoken questions. One, phrased by my mother-in-law, seems to embody them all: “So, do you think you might move back to NY someday?” I know why she asked this particular question: family is very important to her. As a very fortunate 86 year-old, she is secure in the fact that she’s surrounded by those who love her.

My instantaneous answer was “no.” As I sit with my laptop resting on the ‘ole airliner seatback tray, I’m pondering just why I’m not giving Metro NY a thumbs up. Root Rot sums it up nicely, thank you! Huh?!

I don’t mean the kind (phytophthora cinnamomi) that I—and most other avocado farmers—constantly contend with. Rather, I’m referring to the condition of the ground into which most Metro NY’ers have sunken their roots. Here’s what I mean:

  • Metro NY has too many people. As with avocado trees and any living thing, spacing is important.
  • Too much cement in Metro NY. Ever see a healthy tree grow from a hole in the middle of a parking lot?
  • The pace of Metro NY is frenetic; the noise is great. Even a stressed avocado tree will produce less fruit and have fewer resources to fend-off disease.
  • Weather extremes can make Metro NY a nightmare to endure. The oppressive heat and humidity, though good for avocado trees, takes its toll on humans. So does the damp cold, wet snow, ice storms and sleet. Consistently stress a Metro NY’er—or an avocado tree—and see what you get.

So, I think you get the rub. I can’t plant my avocado trees too closely, I’ve gotta love the soil silly (water, fertilizers, mulches), and traffic control is paramount in the grove for top-feeding avocado trees. And, I’ve got to do the same for me. The main portion of my roots needs to spread deep and wide in fertile and healthy soil. And for me, the soil in Metro NY is sub-standard.

And, like avocado trees planted in soil prone to root rot, the health of NY Metro inhabitants appears to be languishing. The majority of my dear friends and relatives suffer from one or more of the common “diseases of affluence”: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar (diabetes), arthritis or obesity.

No, I think I’ll stay here, in avocado country, where I’ll sink my roots further down into the soil so that I can provide the same for my family, trees and friends.

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