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Avocado Hass Avocados Chitoplant
August / September 2022

Biology comes to the Postharvest Rescue of Avocados

SA Fruit Journal: August / September 2022

Biology comes to the postharvest rescue of AVOCADOS

Recent studies are proving that biocontrol measures can keep avocados protected against postharvest diseases as effectively as they can put consumers' minds at ease. By Prof Dharini Sivakumar

Anthracnose (Colletotrichum gloeosporioides) and stem-end rot (including Lasiodiplodia theobromae) are the main culprits when it comes to postharvest damage to avocados. Without effective control, the two diseases severely limit the storage and marketability of the fruit, resulting in considerable losses.

Currently, the fungicide Prochloraz® is widely used in packhouses to control anthracnose and stem-end rot during storage and transportation. However, due to consumer concerns about the impact of chemical control measures on human health and the environment, the process to phase out its use started in 2020. This means that alternative treatments have to be found if South African avocados are to remain a feature of European and Asian export markets.

Research into alternatives to Prochloraz® has been on-going for more than a decade; in all instances, commercial application is the hurdle that cannot be cleared. A treatment that involves thyme oil sachets and a pallet cover, for instance, delivered excellent trial results. But due to high costs, the business case to commercialise the project did not find favour with the industry.

In addition, a clear preference exists for a solution that mimics the "fungicide in a bottle" approach. This is where elicitors enter the frame.

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