Light brown apple moth, Epiphyas postvittana (Walker), is a quarantined pest in most countries. Its establishment in California and potential spread to other parts of the state and beyond make it urgent to develop effective postharvest treatments to control the pest on fresh commodities. Fumigation with cylindered phosphine at low temperature has emerged to be a practical methyl bromide alternative treatment for postharvest pest control on fresh commodities. However, its use to control E. postvittana eggs on sensitive commodities such as lettuce is problematic. E. postvittana eggs are tolerant of phosphine and long phosphine treatment also injures lettuce. In the current study, E. postvittana eggs were subjected to oxygenated phosphine fumigations to develop an effective treatment at a low storage temperature of 2°C. In addition, soda lime as a CO2 absorbent was tested to determine its effects in reducing and preventing injuries to lettuce associated with phosphine fumigations. Three-day fumigation with 1,000 ppm phosphine under 60% O2 achieved 100% mortality of E. postvittana eggs in small-scale laboratory tests. In the presence of the CO2 absorbent, a 3-d large-scale fumigation of lettuce with 1,700 ppm phosphine under 60% O2 resulted in a relative egg mortality of 99.96% without any negative effect on lettuce quality. The 3-d fumigation treatment without the CO2 absorbent, however, resulted in significant injuries to lettuce and consequential quality reductions. The study demonstrated that oxygenated phosphine fumigation has the potential to control E. postvittana eggs and the CO2 absorbent has the potential to prevent injuries and quality reductions of lettuce associated with long-term oxygenated phosphine fumigation.
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