Avocados growing on a tree.  Avocado fruit.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.
Avocados growing on a tree. Avocado fruit. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

A commercially available plant growth regulator can keep a Florida avocado hybrid fresh longer, a finding that could expand the variety's marketability.

Marcio Eduardo Canto Periera, a former University of Florida doctoral student, looked as ethylene as well as liquid and gaseous forms of 1-methylcycloprene on Booth 7 avocados.

Booth 7 is a hybrid of West Indian and Guatemalan avocado varieties.

Known also as 1-MCP, the chemical is marketed by AgroFresh under the brand SmartFresh Quality System.

In the study, ethylene did not speed fruit ripening, but the gaseous 1-MCP kept the fruit fresh.

Ethylene is a natural plant hormone used to speed ripening, such as in bananas, pears, tomatoes and avocados.

1-MCP, a synthetic plant growth regulator, slows the ripening process by binding to ethylene receptors within the plant. As a result, it blocks the effects of ethylene. It already is used in cut flowers and apples.

Periera also wanted to test whether the plant growth regulator affected avocado flavor.

Taste-testers on the UF campus in Gainesville reported no significant loss in appearance, smell or taste, even after the delayed ripening treatment.

“Developing the technology to prolong the harvest life and quality of Florida avocados provides producers and packinghouses more flexibility and opportunity to sell fruit of a particular variety,” Steve Sargent, post-harvest technology professor at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and Pereira’s adviser, said in the release.

Booth 7 avocados are grown in South Florida. Although the industry doesn't currently use the treatment for harvested fruit, it would allow them ship avocados around the country and maintain freshness longer.