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Samuel Salazar-García, Elizabeth M. Lord, and Carol J. Lovatt

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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Samuel Salazar-García, Elizabeth M. Lord, and Carol J. Lovatt

The developmental stage at which the shoot primary axis meristem (PAM) of the `Hass' avocado (Persea americana Mill.) is committed to flowering was determined. Three-year-old trees were subjected to low-temperature (LT) treatments at 10/7 °C day/night with a 10-h photoperiod for 1 to 4 weeks followed by 25/20 °C day/night at the same photoperiod. Before LT treatment, apical buds of mature vegetative shoots consisted of a convex PAM with two lateral secondary axis inflorescence meristems lacking apical bracts each associated with an inflorescence bract. Apical buds did not change anatomically during LT treatment. However, the 3- and 4-week LT treatments resulted in inflorescences at 17% and 83% of apical buds, respectively. Trees receiving 2 weeks or less LT, including controls maintained at 25/20 °C, produced only vegetative shoots. Apical buds of 2-year-old trees receiving 3 weeks at 10/7 °C plus 1 week at 20/15 °C produced 100% inflorescences. GA3(100 mg·L-1) applied to buds 2 or 4 weeks after initiation of this LT treatment did not reduce the number of inflorescences that developed. `Hass' avocado apical buds were fully committed to flowering after 4 weeks of LT, but were not distinguishable anatomically from those that were not committed to flowering.