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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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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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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.

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Raúl Medina-Torres, Samuel Salazar-García and José Roberto Gómez-Aguilar

Nance [Byrsonima crassifolia (L.) HBK.] is a tropical fruit cultivated along the coastal areas of Mexico. Nance consumption has increased due to its versatility, as it can be used as fresh fruit, refreshments, and alcoholic beverages and also for preparing fruit rolls, bottled drinks, jellies, syrup, ice cream, and cakes. However, the broad variation in fruit quality parameters, like juice acidity, total soluble solids, skin color, and size, seems to limit its use. Since fruit quality can be influenced by the parameter used, multivariate canonical discriminant analysis (CDA) was used to discriminate among nance selections. The objective of this study was to find the best quality indices using physical and chemical fruit characteristics from eight nance selections cultivated in the state of Nayarit, Mexico. Six physical and five chemical variables of fruit quality were studied to determine the relative contribution of each variable to the discrimination between nance selections. Two canonical discriminant functions (CDF1 and CDF2) explained >80% of the accumulated variation among nance selections. The total soluble solids (TSS) to titratable acidity (TA) ratio was dominant on the CDF1 (standardized canonical coefficient = 2.46), therefore, this ratio could be used as the best quality index to select nance fruit. The following TSS to TA values are proposed to classify the nance selections studied: a) 5.1 to 8 as sour fruit (Sour-small and Purple selections), b) 8.1 to 10 as sweet-sour fruit (Conical, Improved, Sweet-sour-1, Sweet-sour-2, and Sweet-sour-3 selections), and c) >10 as sweet fruit (Sangunga selection).

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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, Luis E. Cossio-Vargas, Isidro J.L. González-Durán and Carol J. Lovatt

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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Samuel Salazar-García, Isidro J.L. González-Durán and Martha E. Ibarra-Estrada

This research was carried out from 2004 to 2005 in two commercial ‘Hass’ avocado orchards cultivated under rainfed conditions in a hot subhumid climate of the state of Nayarit, Mexico. The objectives of this study were to: 1) establish the patterns in nutrient concentrations during the lifespan of winter and summer vegetative flush leaves; and 2) validate a methodology based on mathematical functions to identify the appropriate period for leaf sampling to diagnose plant nutrition in avocado considering its two major vegetative flushes. Leaf samples were taken monthly for each vegetative flush, starting when leaf length was 5 cm or greater and concluding at leaf abscission. Starting at vegetative budbreak, winter and summer leaves lived 12.5 and 7.8 months, respectively. Summer flush leaves grew faster and attained greater length than winter leaves. A mathematical model based on the concentration of macro- and micronutrients through the lifespan of avocado leaves was evaluated. This model was used to determine the period when nutrient concentrations became stable and, consequently, to identify the proper leaf sampling period. For the ‘Hass’ avocado in Nayarit, the period for sampling winter flush leaves corresponded to 6.6- to 7.9-month-old leaves (4 Sept. to 13 Oct.). For summer leaves the optimum period was shorter and occurred when leaves were 3.9 to 4.9 months old (5 Dec. to 5 Jan.). The procedure and sampling time obtained here should be tested in other regions.

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Samuel Salazar-García, Luis E. Cossio-Vargas, Carol J. Lovatt, Isidro J.L. González-Durán and María H. Pérez-Barraza

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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Raquel Enedina Medina-Carrillo, Samuel Salazar-García, Jorge Armando Bonilla-Cárdenas, Juan Antonio Herrera-González, Martha Elva Ibarra-Estrada and Arturo Álvarez-Bravo

In plants, secondary metabolites (SMs) have functions of both defense and adaptation to the environment in which they develop. In Mexico, ‘Hass’ avocado is cultivated in different climate types, so during its development, the fruit is exposed to extreme climatic factors, especially temperature and solar radiation. A recent study showed that the thickness and roughness of ‘Hass’ skin increased in the hottest climate. It is unknown how these factors affect the presence of SMs and lignin in the skin. The aim of this research was to quantify the concentration of total phenolic compounds (TPCs), chlorophylls, total carotenoids (TCARs), and lignin in the skin of ‘Hass’ avocado fruit over five developmental stages (S), based on fruit diameter [Olive (20–30 mm ø), S-I (35–45 mm ø), S-II (50–60 mm ø), S-III (60–70 mm ø) and Harvest (mesocarp dry matter ≥21.5%)], in three producing regions of Mexico: Nayarit (warm subhumid climate, elevation 1151 m), Jalisco (semiwarm, subhumid climate, elevation 2180 m), and Michoacán (temperate climate, elevation 1579 m). Both fruit developmental stage and producing region had a significant influence on the concentrations of SMs and lignin in the skin. During fruit development, the skin showed a decrease in the concentration of phenolic compounds (PCs) and an increase in the presence of chlorophylls, carotenoids, and lignin. The skin of fruit produced in regions with a semiwarm and temperate climate had higher production of lignin and PCs, as well as a lower concentration of chlorophylls.