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Straight-up question:

Does scarifying avocadoes before putting them in water or a ziplock bag decrease the germination time? And if so, why is it extremely rare to see this procedure mentioned?

Research/Context:

I have seen very little about scarifying avocado seeds. Scarification is the process of cutting a part of the seed (especially harder seeds), which prevents these from germinating at the wrong season of the year. I saw a video where they did it (sadly I do not have it), and I started researching a bit more: In here they cut part top and bottom part. In this video it can also be seen (I pasted the exact timestamp).

I did not find anything else so I researched a bit further and I found in here there's part where> These are types of seeds where scarification is commonly recommended and avocadoes are the 1st seed mentioned.

In this "scientific paper" (I'm not sure if it's a paper, but it looks like it) The Effect of Pretreatments on Avocado Seed Germination they say:

Compared with planting the entire seed, removing the seed coats resulted in a statistically significant increase in germination percentage, as did also slicing off the seed tips. A combination of peeling plus tip slicing resulted in a significant germination increase over peeling alone. When slices were also removed from the sides of the seeds, there was a further significant increase. The relative germination disadvantage of seeds given no pretreatment increased with time. These results are discussed in terms of the labor required to carry out each treatment, the varying danger of seed infection, and the indicated nature of the hindrance to seed germination of the avocado.

Table 1

And in STORING AVOCADO SEEDS AND HASTENING GERMINATION in which they reference the previous one, it is stated:

Avocado seeds of 20 varieties, packed in dry peat moss and stored at 42 degrees F, kept well for at least 8 months. Cutting off a small portion of both ends of the seeds promoted quicker and more even germination.

I guess the reason this method is not that much known might be because it can be "dangerous" to cut yourself or even it might be hard to properly cut where you are supposed to, and damage the seed inside. But why is it not that known, if it shows statistically a great decrease in germination time, with little pre-process time? These methods were used for planting, and people (not avocado farmers but regular people, to which the "how to grow an avocado" might be directed) usually grow avocados with the water method or zip-lock bag.

Question:

Why in the thousands of articles and videos there are, there are very few mentions of it? Will it work to do it? And with the water/toothpick or ziplock bag method?

In case anybody wants a direct image of the cuts:

enter image description here

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  • What is your question? Can you rephrase in one sentence?
    – kevinskio
    Commented Dec 18, 2022 at 19:37
  • Sorry about that! I edited the question to fix that! @kevinskio
    – M.K
    Commented Dec 18, 2022 at 20:27

2 Answers 2

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These papers provide great information, and I would recommend conducting cuts as they direct. There are a number of such papers on the California avocado association website. Incidentally, this is the organisation that played a large part in avocados being known as avocados today, rather than alligator pears as they were called in Florida and the West Indies.

There are a few reasons why there is not good information available online on this topic:

  1. farmers don't reveal their secrets. With the exception of industry groups like the CAA, why would a farmer produce resources on how they produce their product?

  2. avocado germination is largely a non-issue since they do not grow true to seed. This means that avocados grown from seed are grown as rootstock for cutting. Farmers would not release the information for the above reason. Further, while it is fun, in a non-commercial setting there is basically no point in germinating avocado seeds & the sort of person that would usually release information on best growing practice (community growers, permaculture people etc.) are unlikely to grow from seed, so there is little information available.

  3. scarification may not be practiced commercially because of the labour involved & because of increased disease risk to the plants.

  4. To my mind, most of the articles on avocado germination appear to be information copied from previous articles by people who are not particularly interested or knowledgeable in seed germination. It looks like a topic your website can cover if you can't think of something to write that week.

Overall, cutting as directed in this paper has every reason to increase germination, and similar things are done for other hard-to-germinate seeds by gardeners (e.g. Nasturtiums). It may not be practiced commercially because of increased disease risk, but to us normal people wanting to grow a houseplant, the increased disease risk is probably worth it to cut down on waiting time. Finally take all of those articles on germination with a massive pinch of salt.

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    Thanks! You also reminded me that I wanted to post again as I did the experiment with the 3 main ways to germinate! So I'll be doing that shortly with my results and conclusions!
    – M.K
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 13:40
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    Nice. I'm planning on a similar thing should I get a bunch of avocados in. Please do let me know your results!
    – Reuben
    Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 18:20
  • I hope the experiment I just posted is insightful!
    – M.K
    Commented Feb 15, 2023 at 18:51
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I performed an experiment with 3 avocadoes. I tried to wait until they were more or less in the same stage of maturation by touching the avocado fruit. But I guess it's a hard variable. Extra data: According to a temp+humidity sensor, they were in a room, at a stable 22(+-1) during the day and stable 19 at night, 20-50% humidity depending on rain. It's a dry place usually though (geographically speaking). No direct sunlight.

Experiment:

I did the scarifying process by cutting top, bottom and sides (4 times). I took 3 avocado seeds and tried the following germination methods: directly into soil (First picture on the left), moist papertowel inside ziplock bag (I used an airtight mason jar)(Middle) and toothpick method (Right side). I planted the soil (left) on the 19th of December 2022, and the other 2 on the 21st Dec 2022.

The following pictures were taken literally 1 month after the first planting, 19th January 2023. It's worth mentioning that the sprout can be seen in LEFT because there is missing quite a big part on top. But to start growing, it means that the root part is quite developed as well. The least developed one is the ziplock one MID.

Firsto Phase

The following pictures were taken this Monday (13th Feb):

I potted the ziplock avocado when it had some root, on the 5th Feb (2nd Right Right). The toothpick avocado is germinating I'd say at a faster rate than most avos in my environment. Water level was at half, as you can see. It's shell is a bit popped and the sprout is growing! And lastly, the soil avocado is growing beautifully.

Secondo Phase

Conclusions:

It seems moisture absortion increases by scarifying. In the literature papers, this was done on directly-to-soil avocadoes, and it seems that this way it is able to abosrb it better than the other 2 methods. In this experiment, it might be due to the avocado seeds being in different stages when done the experiment. But all of them sprouted definitely faster than regular methods without scarifying (in my geographical area). So if you want faster germination, definitely give it a try!

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