Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Non-Chemical Alternatives for Dried Fruits and Nuts: Issues and Opportunities

Author
item Johnson, Judy

Submitted to: Methyl Bromide Alternatives and Emissions Research Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: September 1, 2004
Publication Date: November 1, 2004
Citation: Johnson, J.A. 2004. Non-chemical alternatives for dried fruits and nuts: issues and opportunities. Methyl Bromide Alternatives and Emissions Research Conference Proceedings. Oct 31-Nov. 3, 2004. Orlando Florida. p. 74.1-4.

Interpretive Summary: All or nearly all of the almonds, walnuts, pistachios, raisins, prunes, and figs produced in the United States are grown in central California. Each year this large and diverse industry yields 2.5 to nearly 3.5 million metric tons of product, worth about $2 billion. For most of these products, exports are a significant and vital portion of the market. Because these high-value products are often eaten out of hand as snack food, or used in confectionary items, tolerance for the presence of live insects is zero. Consequently, postharvest insects, either field pests that may be found in the harvested product, or insects that infest product while in storage, are a serious problem during marketing. Disinfestation of these pests is necessary for distribution of product to both domestic and foreign markets. Methyl bromide has been the treatment of choice in many cases, because the fumigant is effective, easy to use in numerous applications, and, until recently, relatively inexpensive. While replacing methyl bromide with another fumigant may be the easiest alternative, several non-chemical methods show promise as well, including radio frequency heat treatments, cold storage, modified atmosphere, vacuum treatments, ionizing radiation, mating disruption, microbial insecticides, natural enemies, and combination treatments. Identifying those applications where non-chemical methods may be used requires familiarity with the processing and storage methods as well as the marketing constraints within the industry.

Technical Abstract: All or nearly all of the almonds, walnuts, pistachios, raisins, prunes, and figs produced in the United States are grown in central California. Each year this large and diverse industry yields 2.5 to nearly 3.5 million metric tons of product, worth about $2 billion. For most of these products, exports are a significant and vital portion of the market. Because these high-value products are often eaten out of hand as snack food, or used in confectionary items, tolerance for the presence of live insects is zero. Consequently, postharvest insects, either field pests that may be found in the harvested product, or insects that infest product while in storage, are a serious problem during marketing. Disinfestation of these pests is necessary for distribution of product to both domestic and foreign markets. Methyl bromide has been the treatment of choice in many cases, because the fumigant is effective, easy to use in numerous applications, and, until recently, relatively inexpensive. While replacing methyl bromide with another fumigant may be the easiest alternative, several non-chemical methods show promise as well, including radio frequency heat treatments, cold storage, modified atmosphere, vacuum treatments, ionizing radiation, mating disruption, microbial insecticides, natural enemies, and combination treatments. Identifying those applications where non-chemical methods may be used requires familiarity with the processing and storage methods as well as the marketing constraints within the industry.

Last Modified: 12/18/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page