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New quarantine treatments for horticultural and timber products as alternatives to methyl bromide fumigation

Contract nr: FAIR-CT98-4259
Project nr: 4259
Project type: SC
Starting date: 01/04/1999
Duration: 36 months
Total cost: 1,378,000 EUR
EC Contribution: 689,000 EUR
Scientific Officer: Massimo BURIONI
Research topic: Plant health
Acronym: Alternatives to Methyl Bromide

Fumigation with methyl bromide (mebr) is one of the most widely used methods of disinfesting a range of plants and plant (including timber) products, but recent concerns over its role as an ozone-depleting chemical have resulted in its listing under the Montreal Protocol. Consequently, international restrictions are now being placed on its use. Nevertheless, international phytosanitary legislation in the European Union (EU) and elsewhere requires that plant material be free of dangerous pests and diseases, thus requiring that effective treatments should be available.

The objectives of this proposal are to develop a range of new and alternative post harvest plant quarantine treatments for timber and horticultural products in the face of:

  • Restrictions on the use of methyl bromide.
  • The continuing threat of new pest species being introduced to and distributed around the EU.
  • Strict phytosanitary requirements demanded by third countries restricting the export of material from the EU.

The project will investigate the efficacy of alternatives to the use of mebr for quarantine treatments and attempt to develop commercially viable treatments for a number of commodities and pests that are of particular concern to EU Member States. The project will concentrate on the two extremes of, on the one hand, live perishable products, predominantly of horticultural origin and, on the other hand, timber and timber products, thus providing a wide range of potential applications for alternative treatments. Specifically, the proposed treatment regimes are: heat treatments, composting, hot water dips, controlled atmospheres, fumigants other than mebr and combinations of the above. Some or all of these will be tested against timber, woody ornamentals, propagation material and cut flowers. The aims of the project will be achieved in the following way:

  • Responses of pests and commodities will be assessed and used to draw up those predicted to give maximum control of the pest, whilst causing minimum damage to the commodity.
  • Appropriate further experimentation will be carried out to verify and, if necessary, modify the draft regimes, under conditions that duplicate commercial ones as closely as possible.
  • Where possible, quarantine treatment schedules will be drawn up and submitted to EPPO, or if appropriate, other international bodies.
  • KEYWORDS (maxlo): Methyl Bromide, Quarantine, Plant Health, Pests, Treatments.

Current situation/results:
The project started in 1999 and good progress has been achieved in the initial stages. Early work has included investigation and testing of composting variables, work on the initial development of a mathematical model of heat penetration into timber products, testing of alternative fumigants and the effect of hot water dipping on pests and their host plants.
Extensive datasets have been generated on damage caused to Dendrathema spp. by hot water treatments at a range of temperatures, and a simple (commercially viable) method of reducing damage caused by higher temperatures is being investigated. Similar large datasets on the effect of hot water treatments of the various life stages of Liriomyza huidobrensis, Thrips palmi and Opogona sacchari have also been generated, which will form the basis of pest-control techniques developed under this work.
Equipment design and testing phases of the project have been completed in other areas of investigation listed above, and complete datasets are expected in these areas by April 2000.

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MAFF - Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food
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  • Nollie MARISSEN
    Research Station for Floriculture and Glasshouse vegetables
    Linnaeuslaan 2A
    NL-1431 JV Aalsmeer
    Tel.: +31 297 35 25 25
    Fax: +31 297 35 22 70

  • Hugh EVANS
    Forestry Commission Research Agency
    UK-GU1O 4LH Wrecclesham Farnham
    Tel.: +44 1420 22 255
    Fax: +44 1420 23 653

  • Gordon KNAGGS
    IRL-9 Dublin
    Tel.: +353 1 808 26 35
    Fax: +353 1 808 26 22
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