A New Way to Protect Fruit from Pests and Disease


Growing organic peaches is extremely difficult in the Southeast due to high pest and disease pressures and the lack of effective, organically approved pesticides. As a result, very few growers have taken the risk and transitioned into organic peach farming.

In an effort to reduce the risk of transitioning to organic peach production, OFRF provided a grant to researchers at Clemson University in South Carolina. The team, led by Juan Carlos Melgar Jimenez, Assistant Professor of Pomology at Clemson, is using paper bags to physically protect the fruit from pests and diseases and reduce reliance on spray applications.

Based on preliminary data, the project investigators suggest that growing organic peaches in paper bags can reduce pest and disease incidence in peaches, and increase the pack-out of organic farms in the Southeast. Researchers will compare bagged fruit with non-bagged fruit (control) in two organic orchards: one orchard with trees of an early-season variety and another one with a mid-to-late season variety. The fruit will be bagged shortly after thinning.

The fruit will be harvested at the commercial ripening stage, at which time the research team will evaluate the yield, fruit quality and pest/disease incidence. Postharvest disease incidence will be evaluated at three and seven days after harvest. Investigators will disseminate their results in local and regional meetings with peach growers, and through fact sheets, technical notes, newsletters, and videos.

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