By Kate Ayers
Producers and consumers alike become frustrated when strawberries develop grey fuzz shortly after a retail transaction.
To help mitigate this problem, American scientists are investigating how to keep strawberries fresh for longer without the use of fungicides, an April U.S. Department of Agriculture article said.
Botrytis cinerea, powdery mildew and anthracnose are common strawberry mould-causing pathogens, but ultraviolet-C (UV-C) irradiation is an effective treatment option, American researchers found.
UV-C irradiation on the plants followed by a period of darkness killed the fungal diseases and did not damage the plants’ leaves, flowers or fruits, the release said. The dark period robs the fungal pathogens of the light they need to initiate DNA-repair mechanisms, the scientists hypothesized.
This technique also reduced spider mite populations. So, producers might be able to decrease pesticide use.
The researchers are collaborating with an industry member to create a robot that could treat commercial-sized strawberry fields at night, the release said.
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