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Article: Mycorrhizae - Optimizing the Roots of Your Plants: Avocados too?

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Forum: Article: Mycorrhizae - Optimizing the Roots of Your PlantsReplies: 4, Views: 30
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Mishal
Caguas
Puerto Rico

February 6, 2010
9:03 PM

Post #7536105

Excellent article! I knew orchids used fungi, but finding out other plants that relied on them too is extremely interesting. Out of curiosity, do you happen to know if avocado plants need particular types of fungi around their root systems, and what type they might be?
skunkbay
Pilot Point, TX
(Zone 7b)

February 6, 2010
10:43 PM

Post #7536479

If you have established avocado trees, chances are pretty good they are already colonized by mycrorrhizal fungi and additional inoculation is not necessary. Avocado is a host for endomycorrhizal fungi (the arbuscular type referred to as AM or VAM). You can check for colonization by digging up a few fine feeder roots, rinse them carefully, and observe them in a shallow dish of water using a magnifying glass. If you have access to a dissecting microscope, that's even better. You should look for fungal hyphae (fine clear threads) attached to the roots, possibly with spores.
Mishal
Caguas
Puerto Rico

February 7, 2010
3:36 AM

Post #7537276

Thanks for the reply and information!

Actually, the reason I ask is I received a pot-bound avocado plant (about 4 years old and 3 feet tall from pot-rim to crown) a couple of months ago. It took me and a hose an hour too loosen up the root mat that had developed. For the most part, more than half of it was dead and brown, and I pruned those roots away, but what little was left made me wonder if it'd manage. It's only recently started to put out new leaves (like, two weeks ago), so I suspect it'll live after all.

From your description of what the fungi should look like, there was none of that on this tree. I was told it had been started as a seed in water and then transfered to potting soil mix and fed on fertilizers until I got it. So I'm not sure if it had ever had fungi on it to begin with.
skunkbay
Pilot Point, TX
(Zone 7b)

February 7, 2010
3:01 PM

Post #7538216

Mishal:

Based on your description, you may not have any mycorrhizal fungi present. Rather than purchasing any commercial inoculum which may not be naturalized to your area, you could use species from your local environment. You can use the method I suggested to assess for mycorrhizae on grasses from your property or any nearby natural vegetation area. The roots of grasses should have lots of mycorrhizal colonization which can be cut into short lengths and used as inoculum for your avocado tree. The grasses should not contain any Phytophthora, a fungal pathogen of avocado. The fine feeder roots of most grasses are only a few cell layers thick and with a high power magnifying glass or dissecting microscope, you can actually see cloudy areas within the roots that would indicate the presence of mycorrhizal colonization (in addition to external hyphae). Avoid roots with any signs of dark brown or black areas which may indicate the presence of pathogens. If you repot the tree or plant it in your yard, use plenty of organic matter and keep the fertilization low until the new roots and mycorrhizae have had a chance to establish. A commercial organic fertilizer or composted manure would be a good source of nutrients for the tree that would not harm the mycorrhizal fungi. May your little avocado tree live long and prosper.
Mishal
Caguas
Puerto Rico

February 7, 2010
10:23 PM

Post #7539517

Sounds like a good plan, and there's no shortage of grass to pull up to check on. Thank you!

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