- Author: Ben Faber
Boom, just when you think everything is going fine, you run across a reminder that there are little things going on in the orchard that are out of our control. In Goleta, I just ran across these crick-side, crook neck fruit that are a reminder that we just had about 3 weeks of foggy weather (in the fall, when it's supposed to be in the spring) and then a week of hot weather which is just the condition to create this calcium imbalance and distorted fruit. It's no big big deal, unless it was all over tree. Just more of an oddity. Harvest time is past this year so didnt expect to see it on this new fruit.
At avocado harvest time, growers are in the orchard checking things out a little more closely and to see what is going into the bins…..and they see some unusual shaped fruit. Here's what's been popping up and some possible explanations.
Crick-side - First described by Dr. J. Eliot Coit as kink-neck and later by Horne (1931) as kink-side. Finally, the name crick-side (Horne, 1934) was adopted. It is characterized by a definite depression on one side between the stem end and the larger portion of the fruit causing a distortion. In some cases, the area of depression turns black and the fruit drops. In other cases, the fruit grows and matures but the distortion remains. Crick-side is usually found on trees carrying a heavy load of fruit. It has been suggested that high temperatures or temporary water-stress may relate to the occurrence of crick-side, but no definite determination as to its cause has been made.
Carapace Spot - First described by Horne (1929), the name carapace-spot was chosen because of the resemblance to a turtles' back. This external blemish is corky and usually cracked into somewhat regular, angular divisions. The flesh under the carapace spot is undamaged, but exterior appearance is such that the fruit is reduced in grade. Slight rubbing or brushing of tender young fruit on leaves or stems appears to cause this corky growth to start. Fruit on trees exposed to strong winds are more apt to develop the trouble. Windbreaks should reduce injury in windy areas.
Photo: Avocado thrips damage, carapace damage and greenhouse thrips damage.
Sunblotch - This is a viroid that can affect fruit, leaves, and stems with a yellow or reddish streaking, cause a compacted growth and willowy growth habit. The streaking in the fruit is usually depressed and doesn't extend the length of the body.
Sunburn - Fruit exposed to full sun may be injured by sunburn. This occurs when trees defoliate, or partially defoliate, from any of several causes, leaving the fruit exposed. It is normally most severe on fruit on the south and southwest portion of the tree. Sunburn shows as a pale yellowish area on the exposed side of the fruit. Often the center of this area turns brown to black and may wither.
Ring Neck - This trouble has been observed occasionally, particularly with Hass. The cause is unknown but is believed to be related to soil-plant water deficiency at a critical time. A ring of tissue on the pedicel just above the attachment to the fruit dies, turns black and peels off. If only superficial, the fruit remains on the tree. Growth may be retarded because the restriction impedes movement of nutrients and water outward to the fruit. Most severe in humid coastal areas.
Embossment - Occasionally, and particularly on Fuertes, a section of the surface will be raised slightly or be a darker or lighter color. This is referred to as a sectional chimera or genetic mutation.
Healed over damage - if fruit has mild damage that allows it to heal over (remember avocado fruit expand by cell multiplication not enlargement), then a scar is left, such as this likely amorbia feeding
Cuke - As in cucumber but not a squash. These are seedless fruit that can most often be seen from a fruit set in cooler weather or due to some hormonal stimulus. We don't know the reason, but seems to occur more commonly along the coast.
Double Fruit - In some instances there may be a normal shaped fruit with a single cuke attached ot in some cases there is a double ovary and two fruit are attached.
Woody Avocados - For some unknown reason, avocado fruit will form into a grotesque woody structure hardly resembling an avocado. The cause is genetic and non-transmissible.
Sources: R.G. Platt - California Avocado Society Yearbook 1972-73 and Reuben Hofshi and M.L. Arpaia Yearbook 2002.
- Author: Ben Faber
It has been a struggle to get through these hot times and now it's getting cooler, it's even rained, and suddenly that beautiful citrus that has just broken color and is an orange globe splits. It's most common in navels, but all citrus that ripen in the fall – tight-skinned satsuma mandarins, early clementines, tangelos and blood oranges. With the hot summer, it seems that a lot of citrus fruit have accelerated their maturity and are ready, ripe and sweet right now, and maybe ready to split.
And that's the problem. Drought stress. Salt stress due to drought. Water stress due to miserly watering. A heat wave in July. And a weird fall with maybe rain and maybe no rain and is ¼ inch considered rain or just a dedusting? Irregular watering is the key to splitting this time of year. The sugar builds, the pressure to suck in water builds and the fruit has been held back by a constrained water pattern and suddenly some water comes and it goes straight to the fruit and Boom, it splits.
Years of drought, and a stressed tree are a perfect set up for a citrus splitting in fall varieties like navel and satsuma. The days have turned cooler and there's less sense on the part of the irrigator to give the tree water and suddenly out of nowhere, there is rain. That wonderful stuff comes down and all seems right with the world, but then you notice that the mandarin fruit are splitting. Rats? Nope, a dehydrated fruit that has taken on more water than its skin can take in and the fruit splits. This is called an abiotic disorder or disease. However, it's not really a disease, but a problem brought on by environmental conditions. Or poor watering practices.
Fruit that is not yet ripe, like ‘Valencias' and later maturing mandarins are fine because they haven't developed the sugar content and have a firmer skin. They then develop during the rainy season when soil moisture is more regular. Or used to be more regular. With dry, warm winters this may become more or a problem in these later varieties, as well.
Several factors contribute to fruit splitting. Studies indicate that changes in weather, including temperature, relative humidity and wind may exaggerate splitting. The amount of water in the tree changes due to the weather condition, which causes the fruit to shrink. Then with rewetting, the fruit swells and bursts. In the navel orange, it usually occurs at the weakest spot, which is the navel. In other fruit, like blood orange, it can occur as a side split, as seen in the photo below.
Proper irrigation and other cultural practices can help reduce fruit spitting. Maintaining adequate but not excessive soil moisture is very important. A large area of soil around a tree should be watered since roots normally grow somewhat beyond the edge of the canopy. Wet the soil to a depth of at least 2 feet, then allow it to become somewhat dry in the top few inches before irrigating again. Applying a layer of coarse organic mulch under the canopy beginning at least a foot from the trunk can help moderate soil moisture and soil temperature variation.
Once split, the fruit is not going to recover. It's best to get it off the tree so that it doesn't rot and encourage rodents.