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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1299: XXX International Horticultural Congress IHC2018: VII International Symposium on Tropical and Subtropical Fruits, Avocado, II International Symposium on Jackfruit and Other Moraceae and II International Symposium on Date Palm

Understanding pollination processes in avocado (Persea americana) orchards

Authors:   D.E. Pattemore, L.E. Evans, H.M. McBrydie, A. Dag, B.G. Howlett, B. Cutting, R.M. Goodwin
Keywords:   flower, pollinator, fertilisation, honey bee, Apis mellifera, bumble bee, fruit set
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2020.1299.48
Avocado (Persea americana) is an important tree crop globally, and the fruit have high nutritional value. Fruit-set percentages in avocado are typically less than 0.3%, while hand-pollination often achieves about 5% fruit set. This suggests that fruit set could be limited byinsufficient pollination. We investigated pollination processes in avocado orchards in Australia and New Zealand in order to understand whether poor pollination was limiting avocado production. We recorded no pollen deposited on more than 80% of all female flowers. While receptive female flowers were visited multiple times by potential pollinating insects, few of them carried more than 100 pollen grains (e.g., just 6% of flower-visiting honey bees, Apis mellifera). Honey bees, bumble bees (Bombus spp.) and flies caught off either polleniser male-phase flowers or 'Hass' female-phase flowers carried different amounts of avocado pollen grains, suggesting that differences in behavior between pollinator species may affect the rate of pollen movement between pollenisers and 'Hass' flowers. Improving the rate of pollen movement between cultivars and deposition in avocado orchards is critical to ensure that pollination does not limit fruit production. Our research demonstrates the importance of understanding key metrics of pollination, and provides a template for monitoring and managing pollination in avocado orchards globally.

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