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Samuel Salazar-García and Carol J. Lovatt

The objectives of the present research were to quantify 1) the contribution that vegetative shoots produced in the summer vs. fall and indeterminate vs. determinate inflorescences make to yield and 2) the effects of GA3 on flowering expression and inflorescence phenology of summer and fall shoots of `Hass' avocado (Persea americana Mill.) under field conditions. Anthesis started earlier on fall than summer shoots of 10-year-old `Hass' avocado trees; however, no difference in the date of full bloom was observed. Indeterminate inflorescences that underwent early anthesis set more fruit than those with delayed anthesis, conversely, determinate inflorescences with delayed anthesis set more fruit. Indeterminate inflorescences comprised 90% of total inflorescences and contributed 73% of total fruit yield, but individual determinate inflorescences were at least three times more productive than the indeterminate ones. Summer and fall shoots were sprayed with 0, 50, 100, or 1000 mg·L-1 GA3 in November, December or January. GA3 stimulated apical growth of all shoots. If secondary axes of an inflorescence bud were differentiated at the time of GA3 application, the inflorescence developed in advance of inflorescences on branches not treated with GA3. In addition, GA3 caused precocious development of the vegetative shoot of indeterminate inflorescences relative to the flowers in the same inflorescence and relative to the vegetative shoot of indeterminate inflorescences from untreated branches. Stimulation of vegetative growth at the inflorescence apex by GA3 inhibited growth of axillary buds. GA3 at 50 mg·L-1 had no effect on the number of determinate or indeterminate inflorescences produced by either summer or fall shoots. Higher concentrations of GA3 increased the number of vegetative shoots and inactive buds produced by both shoot types.

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Roberto Núñez-Elisea, Bruce Schaffer, Mongi Zekri, Stephen K. O'Hair, and Jonathan H. Crane

Most tropical fruit trees in southern Florida are grown in calcareous gravelly soil that is mechanically trenched to a depth of about 50 cm (about 20 inches). Fruit trees are often planted at the intersections of perpendicular trenches to provide space for root development. Tree root systems are concentrated in the top 10 to 20 cm (about 4 to 8 inches) of soil. Extreme soil rockiness has made it difficult to obtain consistent and reliable measurements of soil water status and to collect soil samples for constructing soil-water characteristic curves in the laboratory. Multisensor capacitance probes andlow-tension [0 to 40 kPa (centibars) (0 to 5.8 lb/inch2)] tensiometers were installed adjacent to star fruit (Averrhoa carambola L.) and avocado (Persea americana Mill.) trees in trenches to simultaneously measure volumetric soil water content and soil matric potential in situ. Capacitance probes consisted of four sensors centered at depths of 10, 20, 30, and 50 cm (3.9, 7.9, 11.8, and 19.7 inches). Tensiometers were installed at 10- and 30-cm depths, adjacent to the 10- and 30-cm deep capacitance sensors. Measurements obtained with both instruments were used to generate in situ soil-water characteristic curves. Rock fragments were more abundant at 30 cm than at 10 cm (71% to 73% versus 26% to 38% of bulk soil volume, respectively) soil depth, which limited the precision of tensiometers at the greater depth. In situ soil water characteristic curves for the 10-cm soil depth can be used to determine parameters needed for irrigation scheduling by techniques such as the water budget method.

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David M. Eissenstat, James P. Syvertsen, Thomas J. Dean, Jon D. Johnson, and George Yelenosky

The combined effects of O3 and acid rain on freeze resistance, growth, and mineral nutrition were studied using broadleaf-evergreen citrus and avocado trees. Using a factorial design, `Ruby red' grapefruit (Citrus paradisi L.) trees on either Volkamer lemon (Citrus volkameriana Ten. & Pasq.) or sour orange (Citrus aurantium L.) rootstock and `Pancho' avocado trees (Persea americana Mill.) on `Waldin' rootstock were exposed to O3 and acid rain for 8 months in open-top chambers under field conditions. The O3 treatments were one-third ambient (0.3X), ambient (1X), twice ambient (2X), or thrice ambient (3X). Ambient O3 concentrations averaged 39.1 nl·liter-3 over a 12-hour day. The acid rain treatments had a pH of 3.3, 4.3, or 5.3 and were applied to simulate long-term rainfall averages. In general, the effects of acid rain on growth and freeze resistance were small. Rain of high acidity (pH = 3.3) offset the negative effects of O3 on growth (total leaf mass) in avocado and grapefruit/Volkamer lemon trees. In contrast, rain of high acidity magnified the detrimental effects of O3 on electrolyte leakage of leaf disks at subzero temperatures, especially for citrus. Freeze resistance, determined by stem and whole-plant survival following freezing temperatures, was lower in the most rapidly growing trees. Consequently, for trees exposed to a combination of O3 and acidic rain, leaf electrolyte leakage did not correlate significantly with stem survival of freezing temperatures. We conclude that the danger of acid rain to citrus and avocado in Florida is rather slight and would only present a potential problem in the presence of extremely high O3.

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Allan B. Woolf and William A. Laing

Longitudinal halves of freshly harvested avocado fruit (Persea americana Mill. `Hass') were pretreated at 38C for 1 hour in a water bath, while the other half remained at 20C in air. Then the entire fruit was either treated from 1 to 10 minute at 50C, or held at 20C (controls). Fruit quality (daily evaluation of browning and internal quality when ripe), and pulse amplitude modulated (PAM) fluorescence measurements, were made on the skin of each fruit half 1 hour after hot water treatment (HWT), 3 hours later, and each subsequent day until ripening. The pretreated half of the fruit showed almost no development of external browning during the ripening period, while the nonpretreated halves were severely damaged by HWTs. External browning increased with longer HWT duration. Heat damage was also evident as hardening of the skin when fruit ripened, and such damage was reduced by pretreatment and increased with longer HWT duration. HWT had a rapid and marked effect on chlorophyll fluorescence (Fv/FM ratio) of avocado skin. Whereas fluorescence of control fruit remained constant over the first 5 days, in both pretreated and nonpretreated fruit, within 1 hour of HWT, the Fv/FM ratio had dropped to near minimal levels, with little further change. The value of Fv/FM 3 to 6 hours after the HWT was directly related to the duration of the HWT (P <0.0001). Although pretreatment almost eliminated browning, little effect of pretreatment could be detected in the Fv/FM ratio. There was a strong negative correlation (r = 0.93, P < 0.0001) between external browning and Fv/FM for nonpretreated fruit, but this correlation was not significant for pretreated fruit. We conclude that chlorophyll fluorescence clearly reflects effects of heat on the photosynthetic systems in avocado fruit, but does not detect the alleviation of heat damage by pretreatments.

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Samuel Salazar-García and Carol J. Lovatt

Avocado trees (Persea americana Mill.) bearing a heavy crop produce a light “off” bloom the next spring. This results in a light crop and a subsequent intense “on” bloom the year after. The objective of the study was to quantify the effects of GA3 canopy sprays applied to `Hass' avocado trees during the months preceding an “off” or “on” bloom on inflorescence and vegetative shoot number and yield. The experiment was initiated approximately seven months before an anticipated “off” bloom in an attempt to increase flowering intensity and yield. GA3 (25 or 100 mg·L-1) was applied to separate sets of trees in September (early stage of inflorescence initiation), November (early stage of inflorescence development), January (initial development of the perianth of terminal flowers), March (cauliflower stage of inflorescence development; only 25 mg·L-1), or monthly from September through January (only 25 mg·L-1). Control trees did not receive any treatment. GA3 (100 mg·L-1) applied in September reduced inflorescence number in both years, but not yield. GA3 (25 or 100 mg·L-1) applied in November before the “on” bloom reduced inflorescence number with a concomitant increase in vegetative shoot number and 47% yield reduction compared to control trees. This treatment might provide avocado growers with a tool to break the alternate bearing cycle by reducing yield in an expected “on” crop year to achieve a higher yield the following year. GA3 (25 mg·L-1) applied in November or January stimulated early development of the vegetative shoot of indeterminate inflorescences. January and March applications did not affect the number of flowering or vegetative shoots produced either year. GA3 (25 mg·L-1) applied in March at the start of an “off” bloom increased 2-fold the production of commercially valuable fruit (213 to 269 g per fruit) compared to the control.

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Susan C. Miyasaka, Jeff B. Million, Nguyen V. Hue, and Charles E. McCulloch

Possible boron (B) deficiency symptoms were observed on avocado (Persea americana Mill. `Sharwil') grown in Kona, Hawaii. To determine the B requirement of young, `Sharwil' avocado trees, two greenhouse experiments were conducted. In a soil study, seven B treatments (0, 3.7, 11, 22, 44, 89, and 178 mg·kg–1 soil fines) were applied to 1-year-old grafted `Sharwil' avocado trees grown for 13 weeks in a Tropofolist soil. Due to the low and variable fractions of soil fines in this rocky soil, extractable soil B concentration did not appear to be a good predictor of B requirements by avocados. Adequate foliar B concentrations in `Sharwil' avocado trees based on dry weight and area of new leaves ranged from 37 (±3) to 65 (±4) and from 31 (±10) to 78 (±13) mg·kg–1 (dry-weight basis), respectively. (Means are followed by standard errors of the mean in parentheses.) In a hydroponics study, 6-month-old grafted `Sharwil' avocado trees were supplied with four levels of B (0, 1, 10, and 100 μm). At 11 months after B treatment initiation, leaves with deformed margins and a “shot-hole” appearance were first observed at a solution level of 0 μm B. At 14 months after B treatment initiation, foliar B concentrations that were associated with 12% to 14% incidence of deformed leaves ranged from 9.8 to 13.5 mg·kg–1 (dry-weight basis). Although `Sharwil' avocados are reportedly susceptible to B deficiency, foliar B concentrations required for adequate growth and those associated with B deficiency symptoms are similar to those for other cultivars.

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Xuan Liu, James Sievert, Mary Lu Arpaia, and Monica A. Madore

Avocado (Persea americana Mill.) tissues contain high levels of the seven-carbon (C7) ketosugar mannoheptulose and its polyol form, perseitol. Radiolabeling of intact leaves of `Hass' avocado on `Duke 7' rootstock indicated that both perseitol and mannoheptulose are not only primary products of photosynthetic CO2 fixation but are also exported in the phloem. In cell-free extracts from mature source leaves, formation of the C7 backbone occurred by condensation of a three-carbon metabolite (dihydroxyacetone-P) with a four-carbon metabolite (erythrose-4-P) to form sedoheptulose-1,7-bis-P, followed by isomerization to a phosphorylated d-mannoheptulose derivative. A transketolase reaction was also observed which converted five-carbon metabolites (ribose-5-P and xylulose-5-P) to form the C7 metabolite, sedoheptulose-7-P, but this compound was not metabolized further to mannoheptulose. This suggests that C7 sugars are formed from the Calvin Cycle, not oxidative pentose phosphate pathway, reactions in avocado leaves. In avocado fruit, C7 sugars were present in substantial quantities and the normal ripening processes (fruit softening, ethylene production, and climacteric respiration rise), which occurs several days after the fruit is picked, did not occur until levels of C7 sugars dropped below an apparent threshold concentration of ≈20 mg·g-1 fresh weight. The effect of picking could be mimicked by girdling the fruit stalks, which resulted in ripening on the tree. Again, ripening followed a decline in C7 sugars to below an apparent threshold level. Taken together, these data indicate that the C7 sugars play important roles in carbon allocation processes in the avocado tree, including a possible novel role as phloem-mobile ripening inhibitors.

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Michael V. Mickelbart and Mary Lu Arpaia

Effect of salinity (1.5, 3.0, 4.5, or 6.0 dS·m-1) on growth and physiology of 1-year-old `Hass' avocado (Persea americana Mill.) trees on one of three rootstocks, `Thomas', `Toro Canyon', or `Duke 7', was investigated to determine the relative salinity tolerance of these rootstocks and to determine possible reasons for any observed differences in tolerance. Leaves of trees on `Thomas' rootstock had the highest leaf Na+, Cl-, and necrosis compared to trees on the other two rootstocks. Exposure to salinity resulted in decreased growth of shoots on all rootstocks, but was greatest on `Thomas' and least on `Duke 7'. The oldest leaves on all rootstocks had the highest proportion of leaf necrosis, whereas younger leaves exhibited almost no necrosis. Salinity reduced net CO2 assimilation (A) and chlorophyll concentrations of scion leaves on all rootstocks, but more in older leaves than in younger leaves. Although the effects of salinity on A were greater for trees on `Thomas' on one measurement date, overall, rootstock differences in A were not significant for any leaf age. Differences in response to salinity among rootstocks were noted primarily in morphological traits such as growth and leaf necrosis, rather than physiological traits such as gas-exchange and water relations. Based on overall growth and physiological response to salinity, trees on `Thomas' performed poorest, whereas trees on `Duke 7' exhibited the greatest salt tolerance. The relative tolerance of the various rootstocks appeared to be due primarily to their ability to exclude Na+ and Cl- from the scion.

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David E. Crowley, Woody Smith, Ben Faber, and John A. Manthey

Methods for Zn fertilization of `Hass' avocado (Persea americana Mill.) trees were evaluated in a 2-year field experiment on a commercial orchard located on a calcareous soil (pH 7.8) in Ventura County, Calif. The fertilization methods included soil- or irrigation-applied ZnSO4; irrigation-applied Zn chelate (Zn-EDTA); trunk injection of Zn(NO3)2, and foliar applications of ZnSO4, ZnO, or Zn metalosate. Other experiments evaluated the influence of various surfactants on the Zn contents of leaves treated with foliar-applied materials and on the retention and translocation of radiolabeled 65ZnSO4 and 65Zn metalosate after application to the leaf surface. In the field experiment, tree responses to fertilization with soil-applied materials were affected significantly by their initial status, such that only trees having <50 μg·g–1 had significant increases in foliar Zn contents after fertilization. Among the three soil and irrigation treatments, ZnSO4 applied at 3.2 kg ZnSO4 per tree either as a quarterly irrigation or annually as a soil application was the most effective and increased leaf tissue Zn concentrations to 75 and 90 μg·g–1, respectively. Foliar-applied ZnSO4, ZnO, and Zn metalosate with Zn at 5.4, 0.8, and 0.9 g·liter–1, respectively, also resulted in increased leaf Zn concentrations. However, experiments with 65Zn applied to leaves of greenhouse seedlings showed that <1% of Zn applied as ZnSO4 or Zn metalosate was actually taken up by the leaf tissue and that there was little translocation of Zn into leaf parenchyma tissue adjacent to the application spots or into the leaves above or below the treated leaves. Given these problems with foliar Zn, fertilization using soil- or irrigation-applied ZnSO4 may provide the most reliable method for correction of Zn deficiency in avocado on calcareous soils.

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Claudia Fassio, Ricardo Cautin, Alonso Pérez-Donoso, Claudia Bonomelli, and Mónica Castro

Root morphological traits and biomass allocation were studied in 2-year-old ‘Duke 7’ avocado (Persea americana) trees propagated using seedling and clonal techniques. The plants either were or were not grafted with the scion ‘Hass’. Whole tree excavation 1 year after planting revealed that the propagation technique affected the root growth angle of the main roots (third order roots), the root length density (defined as the total length of roots per volume of soil), and the number of first and second order roots present. The root system of clonal trees showed a typical morphology of rooted cuttings, with a crown of roots originating from a relatively short stem, resulting in a shallow root system. Clonal trees, compared with seedlings, produced main framework roots with shallower angles and more fine roots (first and second order roots) that increased the root length density (defined as the total length of roots per volume of soil). Nongrafted seedlings exhibited a main taproot and lateral roots with narrow angles that penetrated deeper into the soil and increased the aboveground biomass but had a lower root-to-shoot ratio than nongrafted clonal trees. The grafting of both clonal and seedling trees resulted in similar root architecture and revealed that grafting significantly decreased the soil volume explored and the shoot and root biomass. Although both root systems were shallow, grafted clonal trees had a higher root-to-shoot ratio than grafted seedlings. In this study, a distinct class of roots with large diameter and unbranched growth was more abundant in the root systems of clonal trees. These types of roots (previously undescribed in avocado trees), called pioneer roots, may enhance soil exploration in clonal trees.