Since 2005, the post-harvest application of F-Gas, pure phosphine in cylinders, in fruit and vegetable products has proven to be a useful solution for the Chilean fruit export industry to eliminate phytosanitary barriers and to facilitate market access.
At present, there are application protocols approved by the Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG) within the framework of the Origin Program for the elimination of San Jose Scale, aphid lanigero, Lobesia botrana, and white scale, in apples, grape table, oranges, stone fruits, pears, lemons, and avocados, among other products, with treatments ranging from 24 to 48 hours of exposure, maintaining the fruit's cold chain.
The presence of the false vine spider (Brevipalpus chilensis) in Chile limits the country's fruit exports. One of the conditions for the country's table grapes to enter very important markets, such as the US, is the application of methyl bromide. However, studies conducted by the USDA-ARS to evaluate the conditions for controlling this pest verified that it was possible to effectively control this mite with a phosphine exposure time of 7 to 10 days, depending on the doses and application temperatures.
These extensive application times required to control Brevipalpus chilensis make it unattractive to perform a quarantine-type treatment at source or destination. However, it could be carried out during transit to the destination, especially in the case of table grapes that are exported in ship holds to the United States.
The transit time from Chile to the United States, both to the east coast and the west coast is at least 12 days. This is enough time to perform the fumigation with phosphine without the need to break the cold chain, achieving more expedited access to the market, and even having the opportunity to access new ports in the United States.
Unlike the application with methyl bromide, the application of phosphine does not affect the fruit's post-harvest life, improving the fruit's condition at the time of marketing. It should be noted that, unlike methyl bromide, phosphine does not affect the ozone layer and does not contribute to climate change.
Having this tool would allow exporters to choose between phosphine fumigation in transit, fumigation with methyl bromide, Systems Approaches (which are being negotiated), or even irradiation to - based on the process' characteristics, costs, and benefits - best suit their needs.