Postharvest Strategies for Managing Phytophthora Brown Rot of Citrus using Potassium Phosphite in Combination with Heat Treatments
Phytophthora brown rot, caused by several species of Phytophthora, is an economically important disease of citrus in areas with rainfall during the late stages of fruit development. Recent export restrictions of California orange fruit to China due to the presence of brown rot caused by the quarantine pathogen Phytophthora syringae have mandated more rigorous disease management. We evaluated postharvest applications with the phosphonate fungicide potassium phosphite in combination with heat treatments. In timing studies, potassium phosphite at 1,500 mg/ml was most effective when applied within 18 h after inoculation of orange fruit with P. citrophthora, reducing the incidence of decay by >96% as compared with the control. Potassium phosphite was also highly effective in inoculations with P. syringae. Heated water treatments at 60°C were consistently and highly effective in reducing the incidence of brown rot after inoculation with P. citrophthora, whereas treatments at 55 or 50°C were more variable and generally less effective.