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  • Author or Editor: Mary Bianchi x
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Optimizing ‘Hass’ avocado (Persea americana Mill.) tree nutrient status is essential for maximizing productivity. Leaf nutrient analysis is used to guide avocado fertilization to maintain tree nutrition. The goal of this research was to identify a ‘Hass’ avocado tissue with nutrient concentrations predictive of yields greater than 40 kg of fruit per tree. This threshold was specified to assist the California avocado industry to increase yields to ≈11,200 kg·ha−1. Nutrient concentrations of cauliflower stage inflorescences (CSI) collected in March proved better predictors of yield than inflorescences collected at full bloom (FBI) in April, fruit pedicels (FP) collected at five different stages of avocado tree phenology from the end of fruit set in June through April the following spring when mature fruit enter a second period of exponential growth, or 6-month-old spring flush leaves (LF) from nonbearing vegetative shoots collected in September (California avocado industry standard). For CSI tissue, concentrations of seven nutrients, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), sulfur (S), zinc (Zn), and copper (Cu) were predictive of trees producing greater than 40 kg of fruit annually. Conditional quantile sampling and frequency analysis were used to identify optimum nutrient concentration ranges (ONCR) for each nutrient. Optimum ratios between nutrient concentrations and yields greater than 40 kg per tree were also derived. The high nutrient concentrations characterizing CSI tissue suggest current fertilization practices (timing or amounts) might be causing nutrient imbalances at this stage of avocado tree phenology that are limiting productivity, a possibility that warrants further investigation. Because CSI samples can be collected 4–6 weeks before full bloom, nutritional problems can be addressed before they affect flower retention and fruit set to increase current crop yield, fruit size, and quality. Thus, CSI nutrient analysis warrants further research as a potential supplemental or alternative tool for diagnosing ‘Hass’ avocado tree nutrient status and increasing yield.

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