Last May/June during a hot period and soon after fruit set, avocado growers and PCAs in the Oxnard/Camarillo area were calling in about young fruit about he size of a quarter showing up with white spots. Cutting into the fruit there might only be a small black spot just below the injury. Because that's what it is, a wound response on the part of the fruit to a physical damage. This occurred on several orchards also in the San Luis Obispo area and it seemed to happen in orchards that had recently been sprayed for avocado thrips. No piercing-sucking insects were found at any of these sites. Insects that would feed by feeding on the fruit and causing damage and malformed fruit. Insects that could typically make probing inspections of fruit prior to laying eggs. No eggs or larvae were found in the fruit. Nothing like lygus bug, BMSB, Bagrada bug or other stink bugs was found.
Did it have anything to do with the spray? With the hot weather? With the hot weather and the spray? With the hot weather and the insects that came with it? Did it have anything to do with the hot weather? Did it have anything to do with insects?
And then late June, the calls stopped. No more damaged fruit was being found. And then a lone call from Cayucos. Damage was found on young and older fruit. New damage seemed to be occurring on the fruit that normally sets later in that northern area. The grower walked the orchard and didn't find any bugs. The PCA swept the grove for insects. A yellow sticky card was put out.
So far, no insect has been found on the fruit. So what caused and "is" causing the damage to the fruit? It's not clear. Fruit that was damaged in Oxnard back in late May was tagged to see if it recovered. Ten fruit were flagged and two months later, those tagged fruit were still on the trees. So either the fruit that was attacked fell off with the initial damage or the fruit observed later had healed itself. Fruit have this capacity when they are actively growing to cover over damage. Often it is malformed. In most of cases with this fruit, the damage was very superficial. Occasionally, there deeper pits, but we didn't see any burrowing or tunneling.
If anyone else saw similar damage and has more to offer about this happening, I would be glad to hear about it.
Photos: Damaged fruit that was flagged and observed 2 months later.
MISSION VIEJO, Calif. — Tufts University has released results of a study linking eating avocados to helping improve cognitive brain function in older adults, news especially relevant to Hispanics who have been found to have the longest life expectancy rate in the U.S.1 Published in the journal Nutrients and supported by the USDA and the Hass Avocado Board, the research tracked how 40 healthy adults ages 50 and over who ate one fresh avocado a day for six months experienced a 25% increase in lutein levels in their eyes and significantly improved working memory and problem-solving skills.
Lutein is a type of carotenoid antioxidant, or pigment, commonly found in fruits and vegetables already widely accepted to have a role in preserving eye health and now increasingly thought to have a positive impact on brain health as well. As study participants incorporated one medium avocado into their daily diet, researchers monitored gradual growth in the amount of lutein in their eyes and progressive improvement in cognition skills as measured by tests designed to evaluate memory, processing speed and attention levels. In contrast, the control group which did not eat avocados experienced fewer improvements in cognitive health during the study period.
“The results of this study suggest that the monounsaturated fats, fiber, lutein and other bioactives make avocados particularly effective at enriching neural lutein levels, which may provide benefits for not only eye health, but for brain health,” said Elizabeth Johnson, Ph.D., lead investigator of the study from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, at Tufts University. “Furthermore, the results of this new research reveal that macular pigment density more than doubled in subjects that consumed fresh avocados, compared to a supplement, as evidenced by my previous published research. Thus, a balanced diet that includes fresh avocados may be an effective strategy for cognitive health.”
“Tuft's findings that eating avocados is linked to a positive impact on memory is one more reason to enjoy healthy avocados daily. It's especially good news for Hispanic households where avocados are already so popular and older generations are culturally central to the core family unit,” said Emiliano Escobedo, Executive Director of the Hass Avocado Board. “More research is needed in different populations with different amounts of avocado to better understand the connection between avocados and brain health.”
To view the abstract, visit here.
This study is part of ongoing research that is continually unlocking the unique benefits of avocados to human health. Discover delicious inspiration for different ways to prepare and enjoy healthy avocados in Spanish at SaboreaUnoHoy.com and in English at LoveOneToday.com.
1. Center for Disease Control, April 2016
–The Hass Avocado Board
For Full Article, Click on Download PDF [235 KB, uploaded 23 August 2017]
Avocado Consumption Increases Macular Pigment Density in Older Adults: A Randomized, Controlled Trial
AbstractLutein is selectively incorporated into the macula and brain. Lutein levels in the macula (macular pigment; MP) and the brain are related to better cognition. MP density (MPD) is a biomarker of brain lutein. Avocados are a bioavailable source of lutein. This study tests the effects of the intake of avocado on cognition. This was a six-month, randomized, controlled trial. Healthy subjects consumed one avocado (n = 20, 0.5 mg/day lutein, AV) vs. one potato or one cup of chickpeas (n = 20, 0 mg/day lutein, C). Serum lutein, MPD, and cognition were assessed at zero, three, and six months. Primary analyses were conducted according to intent-to-treat principles, with repeated-measures analysis. At six months, AV increased serum lutein levels by 25% from baseline (p = 0.001). C increased by 15% (p = 0.030). At six months, there was an increase in MPD from baseline in AV (p = 0.001) and no increase in C. For both groups, there was an improvement in memory and spatial working memory (p = 0.001; p = 0.032, respectively). For AV only there was improved sustained attention (p = 0.033), and the MPD increase was related to improved working memory and efficiency in approaching a problem (p = 0.036). Dietary recommendations including avocados may be an effective strategy for cognitive health.
USDA Specialty Crops, the Agricultural Marketing News Service and What's Worth Planting
The AMS Specialty Crops Program helps buyers and sellers of all sizes in the U.S. produce industry to market their perishable products in the most efficient manner. They partner with State agencies and other industry organizations for the benefit of nationwide growers, shippers, brokers, receivers, processors, retailers and restaurants, direct to consumer sales, and the foodservice industry.
The program offers a wide array of services that span from helping market the quality of products to ensuring that there is fair trade in the produce industry. The program also helps specialty crops growers and handlers to combine their resources to help their respective industries overcome marketing barriers.
This is also a great website for trolling for potential alternative crops – what is selling, where, for how much and whether it might be a good idea to plant that crop. Check it out:
Main page of AMS:
Choose from different fruits:
For avocados you can see what the various prices are in different markets and times:
If you are interested in coffee prices, it's still considered a "commodity" and a California grown coffee will not be listed:
The USDA Specialty Crops Program also has a food safety certification program that might be of help to growers. In April 2016, the Specialty Crops Program's Specialty Crops Inspection Division (SCI) launched GroupGAP, a new food safety certification program that is part of our USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) suite of services. Our voluntary USDA GAP programs help verify that produce growers and handlers have taken measures to reduce the risk of contamination. Commercial buyers look for USDA GAP-certified suppliers to source safe specialty products. While larger operations can devote the resources needed to become GAP certified, some smaller entities cannot. Until now. GroupGAP allows farmers, food hubs, and marketing organizations of all sizes to band together and pool resources to achieve USDA GAP certification.
Keeping your eyes open in the field can result in some unusual finds. A recent observation that was sent in concerned an avocado fruit which didn't really have the shape of an avocado and certainly not the texture. It is a "woody avocado" as described by Professor Robert Hodgson of UCLA in 1935:
Hodgson, R. W. 1935. Avocado Fruit Abnormalities. California Avocado Association 1935 Yearbook 19: 108-109.
Dr. Art Schroeder at the same institution pursued it further, still with no clear cause for the condition:
Schroeder, C. A. 1953. Abnormal Fruit Types in the Avocado. California Avocado Society 1953-54 Yearbook. 38:121-124.
Mary Lu Arpaia and Reuben Hofshi revisited the issue of avocado fruit abnormalities in 2002:
Avocado Fruit Abnormalities and Defects Revisited
It is still not clear what causes this condition, other than it is not transmissible and does not occur very often.
The avocado is an amazing fruit. It grows on a tree and comes to maturity, reaches certain oil content and a stage at which it will ripen, but it does not ripen on the tree. It needs to be removed from the tree before it will soften. If the fruit is removed before it has reached maturity it will not soften, and will remain rubbery and inedible. One of the problems is that the fruit will hang on the tree for an extended period of time and it is hard to know when they are mature. Avocados are not like apricots where you have about 2 weeks to get the fruit off before it falls off. As the fruit stays on the tree in gradually develops more and more oil content and has a richer flavor.
If the fruit stays on the tree too long, the oil can develop and almost rancid flavor, however. So it is good to know when the best, acceptable flavor is. Avocado varieties fall into general seasonal periods when they are mature, such as Fuerte' and ‘Bacon” in winter, ‘Hass' in spring/summer, ‘Lamb-Hass' in summer/fall.
To assess maturity, take an unripe stage cut the fruit in half. Look at the seed coat. If the seed coat (the covering of the seed that separates it from the flesh) is white and thick, it is definitely not ready to pick. If it is whitish brown and getting thinner, then if you are desperate, you can try ripening the fruit and taste. If the seed coat is thin and brown, then usually this will mean that the fruit is ready to pick. If the seed has germinated already in the fruit then normally the fruit is over the hill. Some green skin varieties skin will begin to crack when the fruit are very mature on the tree. This will tell you when you have reached the end of the useful tree life of the fruit.
For ripening, pick the fruit and without any help, the fruit will typically be ripe in 7 to 10 days. If you want to speed things along a bit you can take 3 or 4 avocados and place them in a loosely closed paper bag with 2 – 3 Red or Golden Delicious apples or ripe kiwifruit. The purpose of the apples or kiwifruit is that these fruit produce a natural plant hormone, ethylene that will help stimulate the avocado to produce its own ethylene. Apples and kiwifruit are known to produce lots of ethylene. The Delicious apples are varieties that produce more ethylene than other apple varieties. You can keep them even after they are shriveled and they will be producing ethylene. Don't use a plastic bag unless you keep it opened since the fruit need to breathe during this process. Just keep the fruit on your kitchen counter or in a warm place. 68F is the ideal temperature. Lower and higher temperatures both actually slow the process.