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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Salinas, California » Crop Improvement and Protection Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #308115

Research Project: Chemical Alternatives to Methyl Bromide for Post-Harvest Pest Control on Perishable Commodities

Location: Crop Improvement and Protection Research

Title: Nitric oxide as a fumigant for postharvest pest control and its safety to postharvest quality of fresh products

Author
item Liu, Yong Biao

Submitted to: Acta Horticulturae
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/1/2014
Publication Date: 2/1/2015
Citation: Liu, Y.-B. 2015. Nitric oxide as a fumigant for postharvest pest control and its safety to postharvest quality of fresh products. Acta Horticulturae. 1101:321-327.

Interpretive Summary: Nitric oxide fumigation was reported to be an effective and safe alternative fumigant for postharvest pest control on fresh commodities. Five fresh product insect species were successfully controlled with nitric oxide fumigation in 3 to 24 hours at 2°C. Nitric oxide fumigation was also demonstrated to be safe to fresh vegetables and fruits when fumigation treatment was terminated by reducing nitric oxide concentration with nitrogen flush prior to exposing fumigated products to ambient air to prevent production of nitrogen dioxide. Costs of commercial-scale nitric oxide fumigation were also analyzed and indicated that nitric oxide fumigation is both technically feasible and economically favorable. Therefore, nitric oxide fumigation has a potential of becoming a preferred alternative to methyl bromide fumigation for postharvest pest control.

Technical Abstract: Nitric oxide fumigation under ultralow oxygen atmospheres was discovered recently to be effective for pest control. It is effective against all life stages of insects and mites and against both external and internal feeders. Nitric oxide fumigation comes with additional but acceptable costs associated with nitrogen gas supply needed to establish ultralow oxygen conditions. It is more effective against pests and less toxic to mammals than phosphine. Therefore, nitric oxide fumigation is a promising alternative to methyl bromide fumigation for postharvest pest control on imported and exported agricultural products. In this report, efficacy data and effects on product quality are presented. Commercial feasibility, advantages, and disadvantage of nitric oxide fumigation are also discussed.