Response of evergreen perennial tree crops to gibberellic acid is crop load-dependent: II. GA3 increases yield and fruit size of ‘Hass’ avocado only in the on-crop year of an alternate bearing orchard
Postprint version. Published in Scientia Horticulturae, Volume 130, Issue 4, October 31, 2011, pages 753-761.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Lauren Garner was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
The definitive version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scienta.2011.08.033.
Despite problems of low fruit set, small fruit size and alternate bearing, the Hass cultivar dominates commercial avocado production worldwide. To increase yield and fruit size, gibberellic acid (GA3) (25 mg L−1) was applied at different stages of ‘Hass’ avocado tree phenology: (i) mid–late April (flower abscission), end of June–beginning of July (fruit abscission and beginning of the exponential phase of fruit growth), and mid-January (beginning of pre-harvest fruit drop); (ii) end of June–beginning of July; and (iii) mid-September (near the end of the major fruit abscission period; period of exponential fruit growth). In both years of the research, applications of GA3 in April and June–July were within the periods of intense flower and fruit abscission, respectively; fruit abscission was low in September and January. Maximum air temperature was not related to flower or fruit abscission. In the on-crop year (391 fruit per untreated control tree), a single application of GA3 at the end of June–beginning of July significantly increased total yield (kilograms only) and yield of commercially valuable fruit (178–325 g/fruit) (as kilograms and number per tree) compared with the control (P < 0.0001). GA3 applied in September increased total yield (kilograms only) and yield of commercially valuable fruit (kilograms and number per tree) to values intermediate to and not significantly different from all other treatments, except trees receiving multiple applications of GA3. This treatment reduced total yield and yield of commercially valuable fruit (kilograms and number per tree) relative to all treatments (P ≤ 0.0002). In contrast, during the off-crop year (32 fruit per control tree), no GA3 treatment had a significant effect on yield or fruit size compared with the control and all other GA3 treatments. For ‘Hass’ avocado, there was no negative effect from applying GA3 at the end of June–beginning of July in both the off- and on-crop years; 2-year cumulative total yield and yield of commercially valuable fruit were increased by 27 kg (128 fruit) and 22 kg (101 fruit) per tree, respectively, above the yield of untreated control trees (P < 0.0001).
Horticulture | Plant Sciences