Groundbreaking "Cold Lightning" Treatment Eliminates Fruit Mold

Groundbreaking Cold Lightning Treatment Eliminates Fruit Mold

Here at Croptracker we're fascinated by other forms of technology that help revolutionize food safety and make growers' work days easier.  That's why we're excited to hear about a fledgling innovation from Australia that could possibly make a huge contribution to fruit rot control in the future.

Scientists from Murdoch University in Perth, Australia announced this week that they had developed a means of applying cold plasma to fruits and vegetables as a form of low-energy, chemical-free food safety and decay control. Cold plasma, the product created when an electric current is applied to normal air or a gas, is a "reactive gaseous species found to have broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity".  Researchers have demonstrated that blue and green mold spores are destroyed after cold plasma application, which plant pathologist Dr. Kirsty Bayliss describes as "effectively lightning".  The result is a decreased need for high rate fungicide treatment - and since cold plasma application requires no heating of the commodity - without any damage to the fruit or vegetable's shelf life.  While sour rot has not yet been tested, researchers expect it to be equally susceptible to the cold plasma treatment.

Traditional chemical fungicides would still need to be applied to provide long-term protection, but since the fungal rates would be drastically reduced by the cold plasma treatment, this would "[open] the opportunity for other forms of softer or natural fungicides to work effectively," says project leader Dr. S. P. Singh.

This news has naturally created a buzz in the horticulture world.  At this point it is unclear if, when, or how cold plasma technology will make the leap from laboratory to field on a mass scale and if it will become registered in various countries, but a trial is currently underway in Vietnam using the treatment on local produce.  As will many growers, we will be following updates on this exciting horticultural innovation with interest.