The introduction and commercialization of West Indian avocados to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden living collection, south Florida

Noris Ledesma, Richard Campbell, Todd Walt

Abstract


The avocado (Persea americana Miller) is an important fruit crop for subsistence farmers, small- and large-scale producers, throughout the tropics. In the lowlands of Tropical America, local selections of West Indian avocados dominate regional markets. These local West Indian avocado selections are often of superior fruit quality and adaptation to the climatic and edaphic conditions of the area. There has been little effort into the systematic identification, collection and maintenance of these West Indian avocado genetic resources from Tropical America. West Indian avocado selections have promise for South Florida as cultivars for plantation and estate agriculture. Working with local collaborators we have identified superior selections within localized areas of diversity, collected budwood and established a living collection at the Fairchild Farm Genetic Resource Center of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens in South Florida. More than 200 different selections of West Indian Avocado were collected during four years.  As a genetic resource, these selections hold promise for the improvement of disease resistance (e.g. Phytophthora root rot), fruit quality and productivity of avocado throughout Tropical America and the world. Evaluation of fruit and tree characteristics began in 2005 and we have now identified several green- and red-skinned cultivars with promise for commercial and landscape use in Florida and in Tropical America, Africa, and Asia.


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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283