Inflorescence and Flower Development of the `Hass' Avocado (Persea americana Mill.) during “On” and “Off” Crop Years

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science

Inflorescence and flower development of the `Hass' avocado (Persea americana Mill.) were investigated at the macro- and microscopic level with three objectives: 1) to determine the time of transition from vegetative to reproductive growth; 2) to develop a visual scale correlating external inflorescence and flower development with the time and pattern of organogenesis; and 3) to quantify the effect of high (“on”) and low (“off”) yields on the flowering process. Apical buds (or expanding inflorescences) borne on summer shoots were collected weekly from July to August during an “on” and “off” crop year. Collected samples were externally described and microscopically analyzed. The transition from vegetative to reproductive condition probably occurred from the end of July through August (end of shoot expansion). During this transition the primary axis meristem changed shape from convex to flat to convex. These events were followed by the initiation of additional bracts and their associated secondary axis inflorescence meristems. A period of dormancy was not a prerequisite for inflorescence development. Continued production of secondary axis inflorescence meristems was observed from August to October, followed by anthesis seven months later. In all, eleven visual stages of bud development were distinguished and correlated with organogenesis to create a scale that can be used to predict specific stages of inflorescence and flower development. Inflorescence development was correlated with minimum temperature ≤15 °C, whereas yield had little effect on the timing of developmental events of individual inflorescence buds. However, the high yield of the “on” year reduced inflorescence number and increased the number of vegetative shoots. No determinate inflorescences were produced during the “on” year. For the “off” year, 3% and 42% of shoots produced determinate and indeterminate inflorescences, respectively.

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