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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Expanding the Pollinator Base for Southern California Avocados

Authors
item Kemp, William
item Bosch Gras, Jordi
item Vergara, Carlos - UNIVERSIDAD DE LAS AMERIC

Submitted to: Book on Tropical and Subtropical Fruit
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: March 17, 1998
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Avocado is native to the New World and most agree that the cultivation of this plant by man, in Mexico and Guatemala, is very ancient. At present, however, avocado pollination is complicated by several factors, and in thi article we outline a project directed at increasing the pollinator base in Southern California avocado which involves three distinct and complementary yactivities. First, we show that it is important to improve our understanding of the reproductive biology of avocado. Second, it is necessary to study the pollination ecology of avocado in its biogeographical area of origin, in Central Mexico, and to compare this information to similar surveys conducted in commercial avocado production areas in Southern California, with the idea of determining whether the same or substitute pollinator species are already in place. If such species exist in or nearby to commercial production areas in the U.S., further investigations will be necessary to determine the extent to which populations of these species could be increased through manipulations by man, a process that will take several years to complete. The third area of endeavor is the assessment of commercially managed non-honey bee pollinators, namely bumblebees, leafcutting bees, and mason bees. Any of which, if results were encouraging, could provide supplemental pollination for Southern California avocado growers, while management systems for more well-suited pollinator species were developed.

Technical Abstract: Avocado, which belongs to the genus Persea, is native to the New World and most agree that the cultivation of this plant by man, in Mexico and Guatemala, is very ancient. At present, however, avocado pollination is complicated by several factors, and in this article we outline a project directed at increasing the pollinator base in Southern California avocado which involves three distinct and complementary activities. First, it is important to improve our understanding of the reproductive biology of avocado. This is a necessary step to develop methods to measure pollination levels in any particular grove and to establish the pollination efficacy of different insect pollinators. Second, it is necessary to study the pollination ecology of avocado in its biogeographical area of origin (pollinator surveys, pollination frequencies, pollen loads deposited on the stigmas, etc.) and to compare this information to similar surveys conducted din commercial avocado production areas in Southern California, with the idea of determining whether the same or substitute pollinator species are already in place. If such species exist in or nearby to commercial production areas in the U.S., further investigations will be necessary to determine the extent to which populations of these species could be increased through manipulations by man, a process that will take several years to complete. The third area of endeavor is the assessment of commercially managed non-Apis pollinators, namely bumblebees, leafcutting bees, and mason bees. Any of which, if results were encouraging, could provide supplemental pollination for avocado growers, while management systems for more well-suited pollinator species were developed.

Last Modified: 4/17/2014
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