We tested the effect of extended drying of half the root system on fruit yield and fruit Ca concentration, an indirect measure of fruit quality, in avocado (Persea americana Mill. cv Hass). In a field experiment on a sandy soil, withholding irrigation and plastic sheeting was used to dry the root-zone beneath the whole canopy (DD) or half the canopy (WD), compared with well-watered trees (WW). The irrigation water contained added nutrients and was slightly saline. Yield, shoot growth, leaf conductance, leaf and fruit water status and mineral concentrations of leaves and fruit were studied. The responses of treated trees were assessed in the following season during which normal irrigation practices were restored. With respect to yield, the WD treatment behaved the same as the DD treatment. It reduced yield by more than half and proportionately more than the reduction in water supply thus reducing irrigation efficiency. Re-watering did not restore yield of WD or DD-trees in the next season. The WD and DD treatments had no effect on the concentration of Ca in the fruit mesocarp and so are unlikely to affect fruit quality. The main impact of reduced water supply on the trees was fruit abscission and this was linked to dry soil around the roots rather than the water status of the leaves or fruits. We conclude that extended drying of half of the root-zone in one season reduced irrigation efficiency for two seasons by promoting the abscission of developing fruit to the same extent as occurred when the whole root system was exposed to extended drying.