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  • Author or Editor: Luis E. Cossio-Vargas x
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Michoacán and Nayarit are, respectively, the largest and second largest avocado-producing states in Mexico. The main harvest of the ‘Hass’ avocado in both states is concentrated during November to December, which saturates the market and reduces the price of fruit and grower income. The goal of this research was to manipulate vegetative and reproductive growth of the ‘Hass’ avocado with properly timed foliar-applied plant bioregulators (PBRs) to shift the date of flowering and harvest to the period before or after the main harvest. Effects of canopy sprays of gibberellic acid (GA3) or prohexadione calcium (a gibberellic acid biosynthesis inhibitor) applied at different stages of tree phenology on inflorescence development, time of anthesis, date of legal maturity for harvest of ‘Hass’ avocado fruit, yield, and fruit size were quantified. No PBR treatment influenced the time of anthesis. A single or double foliar application of GA3 (50 mg·L−1) ≈4 months (July) before the expected date of main harvest (November) resulted in ‘Hass’ avocado fruit reaching legal maturity (mesocarp dry matter 21.5% or greater) 24.8 to 28.2 d earlier than those of untreated control trees with no negative effect on yield or fruit size.

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Several studies were undertaken in commercial nonirrigated `Hass' avocado orchards under the subhumid semiwarm subtropical climate of the state of Nayarit, Mexico, with the following objectives: 1) to determine the frequency and intensity of vegetative shoot flushes and their contribution to the production of floral shoots, 2) to quantify the effect of tree fruit load on the occurrence of vegetative shoot flushes during the year and the relationship between vegetative and reproductive shoot number during flowering, and 3) to determine the time when apical buds borne on the major vegetative shoot flushes reached irreversible commitment to flowering (floral determination) through the use of shoot defoliation and girdling. Data trees were selected in two orchards based on their current crop load. Four to five branches per tree were tagged, and the number and intensity of vegetative flushes that developed during 2 years, as well as the type of growth produced by apical buds of shoots of different ages, were recorded at the end of the winter bloom periods for two separate years, 1999 and 2001. In a separate experiment using a different set of trees, winter and summer flush shoots were defoliated (year 1) or defoliated and girdled (year 2) at different stages of bud development from September to January in each case. Four vegetative flushes occurred each year. The winter flush that emerged in Feb. 1998 made the greatest contribution to the 1999 winter bloom—76.5% of the shoots produced floral shoots. Contributions of the summer 1 (late July 1998), summer 2 (early Aug. 1998), and summer 3 (late Aug. 1998) flushes to flowering were intermediate. A total of 30.6%, 36.4%, and 19% of the shoots produced floral shoots respectively. All four vegetative flushes produced a similar number of vegetative shoots during winter bloom. Evaluation of the 2001 winter bloom for trees with high (>95 kg fruit/tree) and low (<70 kg fruit/tree) crops showed no effect of tree fruit load on the production of vegetative or floral shoots by winter or summer vegetative flushes. Irrespective of time of treatment (shoot defoliation and girdling) or shoot age, irreversible commitment to flowering of apical buds occurred by 15 Oct., and this stage was associated with an average of 27.5 chilling days (temperature, ≤19 °C) for both years. Buds irreversibly committed to flowering were closed and pointed, with partial senescence of bud scales. Anatomically, the buds showed a convex primary axis meristem and four secondary axis floral shoot meristems.

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