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Three avocados growing on a tree

Three avocados growing on a tree

Saving One of America’s Favorite Superfoods

An entomologist sets up a sticky panel trap in a park.
During field trapping studies at Lake June State Park in central Florida, entomologist Paul Kendra sets up a sticky panel trap baited with an essential oil lure for evaluations of attractants for redbay ambrosia beetle. (Stephen Ausmus, D2637-5)

Packed with nutrients and rich in flavor the avocado is a popular superfood, with a production value of $427 million in 2020. But the avocado has some foes inhibiting its production. ARS scientists with the Subtropical Horticulture Research Unit in Miami, FL, and Tropical Crops and Germplasm Research Unit in Mayagüez, PR, are combatting pests and diseases affecting avocado production in the U.S. ARS scientists developed tools to lure and detect redbay ambrosia beetles, which spread the Laurel Wilt disease in avocado trees. They are also testing resistant avocado rootstocks as an alternative to chemical treatment for Phytophthora root rot, a root disease that attacks avocado trees and causes them to die slowly.

Additionally, scientists are finding better detection systems and solutions for managing the polyphagous shot hole borer, an invasive pest that damages avocado trees by carrying the fungus that causes Fusarium Wilt. Scientists also developed a highly sensitive detection assay to test for the avocado sun blotch viroid, a highly contagious viroid that could damage avocado production. These research projects will help ensure that consumers can continue to enjoy one of our favorite superfoods.

Explore Other Discoveries

Food Additive Takes on Duty as a Pesticide

ARS scientists found that methyl benzoate can repel, and even kill, other insects and pests, including the spotted wing drosophila fly.

For the Love of Coffee

ARS scientists studied Puerto Rican fungal strains as possible biological control agents for managing the coffee berry borer in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Herbicide Beefs Up Effective Biofumigant

Combining the biofumigant with an herbicide seems to curb infestations of purple nutsedge as well as reduce nematodes and the tomato wilt bacterium.

Hopping Against Climate Change

Often viewed as pests, grasshoppers may have a larger environmental role to play.

New Sugarcane Sweetens the Deal

A new variety of sugarcane has high fiber content, excellent regrowth ability, high stalk population, cold tolerance, disease resistance, and excellent biomass yield.

The Potato Industry’s New Stud

ARS scientists created a new potato variety with greater yields and better processing qualities, especially for making chips and fries.

The Buzz Around Bee Genomics

Researchers with the ARS Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics, and Physiology Research Unit have identified a region of the honey bee genome linked to reduced colony defensiveness.

Wasp Could Fight Emerald Ash Borer

In the search for natural enemies of the emerald ash borer, one promising candidate is a tiny 5-7 millimeter-long parasitic wasp that lays its eggs on EAB larvae.