High pressure water-washing to remove pests from capsicums
Removal of pests on export fruit before packing using high pressure water-washing is used commercially in New Zealand for apples and avocados and has the potential to be extended to other fruits and vegetables. Mealybugs, thrips and mites are intercepted on exported capsicums and the presence of species of quarantine importance results in methyl bromide fumigation, which disrupts export, reduces fruit quality and is costly. The removal of mealybugs from naturally infested capsicums was measured after high pressure water- washing at 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, 175 or 200 psi and compared with results from an untreated control. Before treatment, capsicums had an average of 12-37 live mealybugs per fruit. At 3 days after high pressure water-washing, the numbers of live mealybugs on treated capsicums ranged from 3.8 to 11.8 per fruit, resulting in 58-85% reduction. This compared with an average of 44 mealybugs on untreated capsicums at 3 days after treatment.