Cold plasma technology can be a game changer for fruit rots control

NSW Department of Primary Industries and Horticulture Innovation Australia (Hort Innovation) have jointly funded a new project on applying cold plasma for food safety and decay control in horticultural commodities.

The technology will be tested on a range of commodities, including citrus. This technology has the potential to control fruit rot in citrus with no residue. Citrus packing houses are invited to engage in the project in possible trials and to be up-to-date with project developments.

Cold plasma is created by applying an electric current to normal air or a gas. This produces a reactive gaseous species found to have broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity. Cold plasma is effective at temperatures slightly above ambient, which means produce can be treated without being heated.

‘Our preliminary research suggests that it can have good control of blue and green mould (pictured fruit inoculated with blue mould spores control and plasma treated). Cold plasma has not been tested on sour rot, however, we expect it to perform equally well. The cold plasma is expected to destroy fungal spores on the fruit thereby eliminating the need for high rate fungicide treatment.

Fungicides will still need to be applied to provide long-term protectant control, however rates can be significantly reduced. This also opens the opportunity for other forms of softer or natural fungicides to work effectively’ says Dr Singh.

The first stage of the project will focus on decay control in citrus and, if successful, it will be extended to potentially controlling major quarantine pests.

If you wish to collaborate on this project, please email Dr SP Singh (sp.singh@dpi.nsw.gov.au) or telephone on 02 4348 1935. For more details about cold plasma technology, mode of action and its benefits, please refer to the project flyer now on the NSW DPI postharvest horticulture website.

Treated and untreated fruit showing sing or recovery