Improved postharvest market access treatments for horticultural commodities

Project Number


Project Type & Status


Project Leader


John (Jack) W. Armstrong
Allan Woolf
Peter Leach
Pauline Wyatt
John Golding
Francis De Lima

Impact Delivery Themes

Improved postharvest market access treatments for horticultural commodities

What is the problem?

The disruption to trade caused by plant pests and diseases is a major
issue for the horticulture industry in Australia and New Zealand.
International restrictions on the use of some commonly used
fumigants, in particular ethylene dibromide and methyl bromide, has
been driven by increased environmental and worker safety regulations,
rising costs to register new fumigants and public pressure to decrease
dependence on toxic compounds.
In response the horticulture sector seeks to reduce their reliance on
traditional fumigants and develop alternative disinfestation methods.
A first step in this transition is to undertake a comprehensive review of
current protocols with the view to developing new export protocols.
Project summary
This project reviewed a range of postharvest disinfestation treatments
for horticulture, including more than 30 fumigants and a range of
alternative control methods such as energy treatments (electrical,
microwave, radio frequency, and irradiation), controlled atmosphere
treatments and physical treatments (heat, cold, pressure, vacuum,
The treatments were assessed based on their potential to deliver
the required efficacy while maintaining product quality. Model
crops included cherries, nectarines, mandarins, oranges, tomatoes,
capsicums and table grapes.
This review led to the development of recommendations for effective
postharvest disinfestation treatments to safeguard international trade
for Australia and New Zealand producers. Protocols for undertaking
disinfestation were also produced, targeting both internal pests (e.g.
fruit flies and codling moth) and surface pests (e.g. mealybugs and
Further data has been collected to develop protocols for the
control of fruit flies for species that are both present in Australia and
not yet established in Australia and NZ. Protocols appropriate for airfreight
may also be developed from fruit fly mortality data generated
in this project.
The use of alternative cost-effective combination treatments to ensure
quarantine compliance will significantly enhance the profitability and
reputation of the Australian and New Zealand horticulture industries.
This will help ensure continued access to important overseas markets
and the development of new markets currently closed due to
quarantine issues.
Other benefits include a reduction in emissions of methyl bromide and
the likelihood of food being exposed to toxic chemicals.
The research is of direct relevance to the horticulture industries
in Australia and New Zealand. The research has informed the
development of new data packages for domestic and export protocols
and informed interstate and international trade negotiations.

Read the Executive Summary for the final report