Export of Pink Lady apples from Australia has been significantly affected by infestations of adult eucalyptus weevils (Gonipterus platensis Marelli). These weevils cling tenaciously to the pedicel of apple fruit when selecting overwintering sites. As a result, apples infested with live G. platensis adults lead to rejection for export. Since the Montreal Protocol restricted use of methyl bromide as postharvest treatment, it was necessary to consider alternative safer fumigants for disinfestation of eucalyptus weevil. Laboratory experiments were conducted using concentrations of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, and 80 mg/liter of ethyl formate. Complete control (100% mortality) was achieved at 25–30 mg/liter of ethyl formate at 22–24°C for 24-h exposure without apples. However, with 90–95% of the volume full of apples, complete control was achieved at 40 mg/liter of ethyl formate at 22–24°C for 24-h exposure. No phytotoxicity was observed and after one day aeration, residue of ethyl formate declined to natural levels (0.05–0.2 mg/kg). Five ethyl formate field trials were conducted in cool storages (capacity from 250–900 tons) and 100% kill of eucalyptus weevils were achieved at 50–55 mg/liter at 7–10°C for 24 h. Ethyl formate has great potential for preshipment treatment of apples. Its use is considerably cheaper and safer than already existing fumigants like methyl bromide and phosphine.
Keywords: ethyl formate; apple; eucalyptus weevil; fumigation; fumigant
Journal Article. 3661 words. Illustrated.
Full text: subscription required