Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have developed a method for storing and treating agricultural products for pests. The method creates vacuum conditions in cartons containing agricultural foodstuffs, perishable commodities, and ornamental plants and flowers. The vacuum condition serves as a way to fumigate for postharvest pest control, or to conduct controlled atmosphere storage under reduced atmospheric pressure. Commercial produce boxes are not designed for vacuum; therefore, special boxes are needed to maintain high vacuum levels. ARS’s method provides an alternative to expensive facilities using vacuuming for creating crush-prone boxed commodities.
The invention provides an economical alternative to fixed vacuum chambers that are expensive for producers, shippers, and pest management industries. Because the invention does not have large fixed structures as compared with traditional vacuum chambers, the method is portable and can be used in a variety of situations.
Benefits of hypobaric storage to postharvest life and quality have been reported on a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. This invention can be adopted for different commodities. Further, research and development efforts are required to bring the invention to commercial use. The cost of developing commercial products should be low.
Please refer to USPN 6,766,612 (Docket #0046.03), "Apparatus and Method to Treat Materials for Pest Control and Storage," which issued July 27, 2004. Foreign rights are available.
Yong Biao Liu
Crop Improvement and Protection Research
Salinas, CA 93905
(831) 755-2825 / Fax: (831) 755-2814