Location: Tropical Crop and Commodity Protection Research2022 Annual Report
The long-term goals of our research program are to develop and protect U.S export markets for fresh tropical commodities. An emphasis is placed on expanding and diversifying agriculture and agricultural exports in Hawaii and other states by providing environmentally sound, economically viable systems,treatments, or processes that control quarantine pests, ensure product quality, and increase product value while safeguarding the agriculture of other states. Our research will address three broad objectives over the next 5 years: Objective 1: Develop new or improved postharvest treatments or technologies for fresh tropical commodities that mitigate risks associated with quarantine pests and improve quality and shelf-life. • Sub-objective 1A. Develop quarantine irradiation treatments for western flower thrips, tropical nut borer, and the semi-slug Parmarion martensi. • Sub-objective 1B. Evaluate ethyl formate fumigation for thrips control in ornamentals. • Sub-objective 1C. Determine the quality and shelf life of fresh commodities subjected to quarantine irradiation treatment. Objective 2: Develop new preharvest methods for the monitoring and control of phytosanitary and quarantine pests and commodity quality improvement. • Sub-objective 2A. Develop oviposition deterrents for behavioral control of oriental fruit fly and spotted wing drosophila. • Sub-objective 2B. Identify trail pheromone components of little fire ant for improved management in Hawaii. • Sub-objective 2C. Determine preharvest factors that increase aflatoxin prevalence in macadamia nuts. Objective 3: Develop risk management systems and systems approaches to control tropical plant pests and decrease the intensity or need for commodity treatments. • Sub-objective 3A. Evaluate predator breeding stations for augmentative biological control of coffee berry borer in coffee. • Sub-objective 3B. Conduct classical biological control of coffee berry borer using the adult parasitoid Phymasticus coffea. • Sub-objective 3C. Develop a multi-component system for determining chemical and sensory quality associated with coffee berry borer (CBB) damaged coffee and other coffee defects.
Obj 1A: Quarantine irradiation treatments for western flower thrips, tropical nut borer, and the slug Parnarion martensi will be developed. Dose response data will be generated for mortality, fecundity and fertility. Irradiation treatments will be submitted to USDA APHIS and the IPPC for approval. 1B: Ethyl formate fumigation for postharvest thrips control in ornamentals will be developed, including orchids. Efficacy trials will be conducted with nymph and adult stages using fumigation across concentrations and times. Preliminary data show thrips can be controlled at very low ethyl formate concentrations without loss of orchid quality. 1C: The quality & shelf life of fresh commodities subjected to quarantine irradiation treatment will be determined, particularly for breadfruit. Fresh breadfruit will be irradiated and evaluated for physical, chemical & sensory attributes. If quality is negatively impacted at phytosanitary doses, then combination treatments with hot water or 1-MCP will be tested. Obj 2A: Oviposition deterrents for behavioral control of oriental fruit fly and spotted wing drosophila will be developed. Chemical odors will be extracted from fruits and fungi and screened for attraction or antagonism to fruit flies using field cage tests or GC-EAD & GC-MS analysis. Oviposition deterrents might reduce insecticide spraying. 2B: Trail pheromone components of little fire ant will be identified. Potential candidates will be extracted from venom sac/Dufour’s glands of LFA workers and trails created on epiphytic moss. Bioactivity will be determined via behavioral, chemical and electrophysiological techniques. Pheromones with toxic baits could improve discovery, worker recruitment, and delivery to nests workers. 2C: Preharvest factors increasing aflatoxin in macadamia nuts will be determined. Samples from fields and processor will be evaluated for insect damage & aflatoxins. A prototype in-line fluorescence detector for contaminated nuts will be developed. Aflatoxin detection in immature or insect-damaged nuts can allow mitigation via preharvest insect control, timely harvests, & postharvest sorting. Obj 3A: Predator breeding stations will be evaluated for augmentative biological control of coffee berry borer (CBB) in coffee. Sleeve cages and artificial berries will be used to quantify predation rates in flat bark beetle predators of CBB. Breeding stations will be evaluated for their ability to multiply & augment predators. Increased predators in coffee farms should result in lower CBB populations. 3B: Classical biological control of CBB using the parasitoid Phymasticus coffea will be conducted. P. coffea will be imported from Colombia & tested in quarantine against native and exotic scolytine prey to determine host range. If P. coffea shows no significant nontarget effects, release permits will be obtained. 3C: A system to determine chemical & sensory quality of CBB-damaged coffee will be developed. Methods for volatiles analysis will be developed to distinguish damaged from undamaged beans. If volatile and sensory analyses are effective in differentiating CBB damaged coffee the methodology will be applied to detect other coffee defects.
This research project develops pre-harvest and postharvest treatments or systems to control quarantine pests, while retaining the quality and shelf-life of tropical crops. The project supports the expansion and diversification of U.S. exports of fresh tropical crops, while protecting U.S. agriculture from pest incursions. This is the second-year report for the new project 2040-43000-018-000D “Postharvest Protection of Tropical Commodities to Improve Market Access and Quarantine Security”. In support of Sub-objective 1A, phytosanitary irradiation treatments are being developed to support the export of Hawaii-grown fruits and vegetables to the continental United States. The semi-slug Parmarion martensi is a high priority quarantine pest. It sometimes infests exported sweet potatoes and other fruits and is a potential health risk as a primary vector of Angiostrongylus cantonensis, the nematode causing rat lungworm disease in humans. The detection of P. martensi in Hawaiian fresh produce exports is a concern for California and other export destinations because infected P. martensi may become established there and plant inspectors may be exposed and at risk of infection. Irradiation treatment at 150 Gray (Gy) and 400 Gy, the generic doses commonly used for Hawaii produce and for fruit internationally, prevented any reproduction in P. martensi, suggesting irradiation treatments aimed at disinfestation of quarantine insect pests will also control hitchhiking slugs. Despite the increasing importance of gastropods as quarantine pests, radiotolerance studies are scarce and this is the first report of an irradiation treatment for a slug. Additional studies are in progress to determine the efficacy of phytosanitary irradiation against the pathogenic nematode inside P. martensi. In support of Sub-objective 1B, ARS researchers in Hilo, Hawaii, continued to develop ethyl formate fumigation to reduce shipment rejections of ornamental crop exports from Hawaii to the continental United States. Thrips cause most of the rejections of cut orchid flowers exported from Hawaii. One hour ethyl formate fumigation at 23 degrees C was effective at controlling western flower thrips and melon thrips. Ethyl formate fumigation had no noticeable effect on flower color and shelf life. In support of Sub-objective 1C, research was conducted to evaluate fresh breadfruit quality following phytosanitary irradiation treatment. An effective treatment would enable export of this high-value fruit to U.S. mainland markets. Mature green fruit of three breadfruit varieties were treated with X-ray radiation at 0, 200, 400, 600 and 800 Gy at a commercial facility, stored at 13 degrees C for five days, and evaluated for firmness, internal browning, surface color and visual damage. Data are being analyzed. In support of sub-objective 2A, ARS researchers isolated and identified 2-pentylfuran (a patent pending compound isolated from a fermentation product) as a novel repellent compound of spotted wing drosophila. Current control methods to reduce fruit infestation by spotted wing drosophila are based on the repeated application of pesticides, which may not be sustainable due to resistance, cost, and negative impact on environment and beneficial insects. When released from polyethylene sachets around raspberries (a preferred host of spotted wing drosophila) 2-pentylfuran could reduce oviposition on fruit by 50% in the field. The CRADA partner (Scentry Biologicals Inc) has developed prototype puffers (misters) of 2-pentylfuran to be tested in field during the growing season in 2022. In support of Sub-objective 2B, research to identify trail pheromone components of little fire ant (LFA) continued. LFA is a nuisance pest in many agricultural crops in Hawaii that can inflict a painful sting. Adding trail pheromone to little fire ant baits may help recruitment of workers to toxic baits and improve the efficacy of the baits. Chemicals in the Dufour’s gland of the workers of little fire ants were extracted and behaviorally tested for elicitation of trailing behavior. In laboratory bioassays, chemicals in the Dufour’s gland elicited trailing behavior from the workers of little fire ant. Different solvent fractions of the gland extracts will be subject to bioassays to identify bioactive fraction(s) that induce trailing behavior. In support of Sub-objective 2C, macadamia nuts were harvested from six commercial orchards over a 17-month period and evaluated for aflatoxin (AF) concentration. Each area in the orchard was approximately 40 hectares and orchard locations were at different elevations. Over 100 samples were measured for AF via high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Aflatoxin was detected at concentrations between 0 and 20 parts per billion (ppb) in 15% of samples, and three samples (from a single orchard) had AF concentrations above 20 ppb. Most (82%) of the samples had no detectable AF. Insect damage in an orchard location was positively correlated with higher levels of AF, even when samples were culled so that only unblemished, undamaged nuts were measured for AF content. In support of Sub-objective 3A, predator breeding stations are being tested on coffee farms for their ability to augment biological control of the coffee berry borer (CBB), the most damaging insect pest of coffee in Hawaii and worldwide. The predator Cathartus quadricollis was shown to be attracted to breeding stations containing cracked corn food and a pheromone lure, and to multiply and disperse from the breeding stations. Studies are underway to quantify the impact of breeding stations on increasing predation on coffee farms using 3-D-printed artificial coffee berries which can be stocked with CBB prey to help quantify feeding activity. Preliminary field tests showed predation on eggs of approximately 40% after 24 h. To advance Sub-objective 3B, a draft environmental assessment (DEA) and a cultural impact statement were prepared to seek approval for the release of Phymasticus coffea, a parasitoid of the adult CBB. P. coffea, originally from Africa, has been introduced against CBB in many coffee-producing countries. The Hawaii Department of Agriculture and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) are currently reviewing the DEA to determine its safety. In support of Sub-objective 3C, research continued on the potential impact of CBB infestations on coffee chemistry and cupping quality. A method was developed to extract and analyze chlorogenic acid and caffeine from green coffee beans using ultra-high performance liquid chromatography and mass spectroscopy (UHPLC/Q-TOF). High quality green coffee beans were compared to beans damaged by CBB. Preliminary data showed increased levels of chlorogenic acid in CBB damaged green beans, compared to undamaged beans. In other research, we developed pectin coatings with or without trans-cinnamaldehyde (TCIN) for postharvest preservation of rambutan. Rambutan normally has a short shelf life due to high respiration and loss of color. Three concentrations of TCIN were incorporated into a pectin solution to get 0.05% TCIN, 0.1% TCIN, and 0.2% TCIN coatings. Fruit stored at 10 and 20 degrees C were evaluated for weight loss, firmness, pericarp browning, sugar, acid, and taste. The results showed that the 0.1% TCIN coating exhibited significantly lower weight loss than both control and the 0.2% TCIN coating through the entire storage time at 20 degrees C. The 0.1% TCIN coating also significantly reduced the pericarp browning rate over the control at both 10 and 20 degrees C. The 0.1% TCIN treated fruit showed a significantly higher overall quality value than control fruit stored at 10 degrees C. The results indicate that the 0.1% TCIN coating may extend the commercial shelf life of rambutans and other perishable fruits. ARS researchers in Hilo, Hawaii, also developed functional prototypes using 3D printers for automated diurnal insect traps for monitoring insect activity throughout the day. These traps were designed based on the movements of target insect pests and are expected to provide insights into the hours of day insect pests are active. Field trials are planned to finalize the design and the traps will be commercially produced for future experiments with coffee berry borer, avocado lace bug, tropical nut borer, and the moth pest Cryptophlebia. Experiments were initiated to determine the feasibility of using near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy to identify sex, age and host plants of oriental fruit flies. Preliminary results show that sex and age can be identified successfully using fast, non-destructive NIR methods. Host plant experiments will be conducted after gathering more data on age grading. Three different varieties of avocados are also being evaluated using NIR spectroscopy and validated with wet chemistry analyses to develop a real-time, non-destructive method for authentication of Hawaii avocados. As well, ARS researchers in Hilo, Hawaii, evaluated different commercial pheromone lure formulations and trap colors for two moth pests of macadamia nut, Cryptophlebia ombrodelta (litchi fruit moth) and C. illepida (koa seedworm) to aid in future mating disruptions studies. Color was not important but the best lure types and combinations were identified. Another macadamia pest, tropical nut borer (TNB), was shown to preferentially attack 2-3-week-old nuts on the ground using olfactory cues. TNB was attracted to a trap containing 3:1 methanol: ethanol. Clock-mounted traps are being used to determine the diurnal movement of the moth and beetle pests in macadamia. These results will be used in designing and optimizing behavior-based management tactics for the moth and beetle pests including attract-and-kill, push-pull, and biological control.
1. A novel oviposition deterrent for oriental fruit fly. Oriental fruit fly (OFF) is one of the most destructive agricultural pests. Current OFF prevention programs in the mainland United States focus on control and surveillance of male flies, which is not effective for mitigating the impact caused by invading female flies. Protein bait sprays have been extensively used to protect fruit infestation by OFF, but resistance development has been an issue. ARS researchers in Hilo, Hawaii, have identified natural product-based oviposition deterrents and identified four key chemicals that can significantly reduce fruit infestation when applied on fruit. An invention disclosure was submitted in March 2022. Prototype sprayable formulations of the active ingredients are being formulated through a CRADA (# 58-2040-0-0004) for field testing in 2022.
2. A novel method to repel spotted wing drosophila to protect fruit. Current control methods to reduce fruit infestation by spotted wing drosophila are based on the constant use of pesticides, which may not be sustainable due to resistance, cost, and negative impact on environment and beneficial insects. ARS researchers in Hilo, Hawaii, identified a novel spatial repellent, 2-pentylfuran, that can reduce spotted wing drosophila infestation on fruit by 50% without the use of pesticide. 2-pentylfuran is generally regarded as safe compound and will be a safe alternative to pesticide spraying. A patent was filed in February 2021 (USDA Docket number: 109.19) and a prototype puffer dispenser has been developed via CRADA (#58-2040-8-0014) for field testing.
3. Aflatoxin detection in macadamia nuts. Aflatoxins, carcinogenic mycotoxins generated by Aspergillus molds, are an emerging problem for the macadamia nut industry. However, conditions that contribute to aflatoxin contamination in the orchard were unknown, and analytical methods specific to macadamia nuts did not exist. ARS scientists in Hilo, Hawaii, evaluated, optimized and validated two analytical methods for measuring aflatoxin in macadamia nuts. Methods were compared for sensitivity, selectivity and precision and then evaluated with nuts harvested from commercial orchards. Aflatoxin was detected in samples taken directly from the field using both methods, indicating that contamination begins in the orchard. Researchers were able to trace the aflatoxin problem to specific orchard locations with observed insect damage, indicating a possible link between insect infestation and aflatoxin contamination. This research will enable macadamia nut producers to identify and reduce the occurrence of contaminated nuts before processing, thereby reducing food safety risks and product rejections.
4. Edible coating treatments for postharvest preservation of rambutan. Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum L.) (Sapinadeae) fruit has high nutrition values for its vitamin, mineral and antioxidant-rich properties. Rambutan fruit exhibit desiccation and physiological browning soon after harvest, and therefore methods to prolong shelf life and improve marketability are needed. ARS researchers in Hilo, Hawaii, conducted research on freshly harvested fruit treated with pectin coatings with or without trans-cinnamaldehyde (TCIN) and stored at 10 or 20 degrees C to evaluate postharvest quality attributes, including weight loss, firmness, pericarp browning, sugar, acid, and taste. The results indicate that the 0.1% TCIN coating may extend the commercial shelf life of rambutans and other perishable fruits. By extending shelf life, this coating can reduce postharvest losses and facilitate expanded fruit exports in Hawaii.
5. A mobile phone app with IPM information for Hawaii crops and pests. A mobile application, MyIPM app Hawaii, was developed to provide a handy resource on the biology and management of important pests for Hawaii grown crops (tropical fruits, ornamentals, coffee, macadamia, vegetables, postharvest treatments). The free App is now available for Apple and Android Devices with approximately 150 combined downloads on both platforms since its launch in March 2022. Target users include farm managers, growers, Extension agents and researchers. Ninety-two percent of the users are based in the United States, while 8% are based internationally including Canada, Germany, Mexico, Japan, India, Australia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Colombia, and Puerto Rico.
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