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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: CURRENT TRENDS IN CITRUS POSTHARVEST DECAY CONTROL

Author
item McCollum, Thomas

Submitted to: International Society of Citriculture Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: May 27, 2004
Publication Date: February 1, 2004
Citation: Mccollum,T.G.2004.Current trends in citrus postharvest decay control. International Society of Citriculture Proceedings.

Interpretive Summary: Fresh citrus fruit are susceptible to decay caused by fungi during the interval between harvest and the consumption. Controlling decay following harvest is essential to successful marketing of fresh citrus fruit. Historically and currently, treatment of fresh citrus fruit with fungicides has been the most effective means to manage postharvest decay. However, the use of fungicides is not without problems. Issues including concerns about human health risks associated with fungicide residues, particularly in the diets of children, the widespread occurrence of fungicide resistant isolates of postharvest pathogens, environmental problems associated with the disposal of water used in packing operations, and a diminishing number of approved fungicides for the control of postharvest decay necessitate the development of new decay control strategies for citrus. This paper describes emerging technologies for managing postharvest diseases of fresh citrus fruit. Physical treatments, biological control agents, alternative chemicals, and genetic engineering strategies all have potential to reduce postharvest decay in a consumer safe, environmentally friendly manner.

Technical Abstract: The theme of this congress 'Quality, the Key to Success of Citriculture' not only means producing quality fruit, but also delivering quality fruit to the consumer. Decay obviously has a negative impact on quality and may be the single leading cause of postharvest losses of fresh citrus fruit. Temperature management and application of fungicides both pre- and postharvest have been and continue to be the most effective methods for reducing losses due to decay. However, the use of fungicides is not without problems. Issues including concerns about human health risks associated with fungicide residues, particularly in the diets of children, the widespread occurrence of fungicide resistant isolates of postharvest pathogens, environmental problems associated with the disposal of water used in packing operations, and a diminishing number of approved fungicides for the control of postharvest decay necessitate the development of new decay control strategies for citrus. Although promising new reduced risk fungicides for both pre- and postharvest use on citrus are in the registration phase, it is unlikely that fungicides will be the only solution for postharvest decay control in the future. Current research efforts are focused on methods to improve the efficacy of fungicides so that better control can be achieved with reduced rates of material. In addition, alternative chemical and physical treatments are being investigated. Biologicals have also shown some promise for use on citrus, especially for the control of Penicillium molds. Studies on natural mechanisms of defense as well as host responses to pathogens are being conducted and these will no doubt provide new opportunities to enhance resistance. It is likely that more integrated approaches to control postharvest decay of citrus will be developed. Such approaches will not only be environmentally friendly but also more sustainable than merely applying fungicides to the fruit following harvest.

Last Modified: 9/1/2014
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