Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in California have developed a method to store agricultural commodities under certain ultra-low oxygen conditions for controlling postharvest pests. Most stored agricultural commodities are fumigated with chemical treatments, like methyl bromide, to control agricultural pests. Ultra-low oxygen treatments provide a safer alternative to chemical fumigation for postharvest pest control in both imported and exported agricultural products. ARS’s treatment is compatible with USDA organic product standards, and therefore can help stimulate U.S. organic export markets. Exported broccoli and lettuce to Japan and Taiwan are fumigated to control western flower thrips and lettuce aphid. In laboratory tests, ARS’s technology effectively controlled these pests without any negative effects on marketability. Other chemical fumigation alternatives exist such as cold storage, irradiation, and heat, but they only work with certain products. ARS’s low-cost technology provides a promising alternative to chemical postharvest treatments for a variety of perishable commodities. This technology would be beneficial for agricultural commodities subject to quarantine for potential pests. ARS is seeking a commercial partner to determine the technology’s feasibility under field conditions.
Companies engaged in designing and manufacturing shipping containers or controlled atmosphere storage facilities can readily apply this technology.
Please refer to S.N. 11/591,724 (Docket #0008.06), “Ultra-Low Oxygen Treatment for Post Harvest Pest Control on Agricultural Products,” which was filed on November 1, 2006. Foreign rights are available.
Crop Improvement and Protection Research Unit
Salinas, CA 93905
Phone: (831) 755-2825
Fax: (831) 755-2814