Citrosol toasts success at Citrus Congress

Spanish postharvest specialist Citrosol is celebrating after a hugely-successful appearance at this year’s recently concluded International Citrus Congress in the city of Valencia, Spain, where the firm highlighted a number of its recent product innovations when it comes to fruit treatment.

The company, which is also based in Valencia, used its appearance to examine ways in which citrus shelf-life can be extended and also looked at the often negative effects that potassium sorbate can have on fruit during the postharvest stage of the production process.

Citrosol was one of the key participants at the International Citrus Congress, an event that takes place in a different country every three-four years, and which this year was staged in the prestigious Valencia Conference Centre between 18-23 November.

“The presence and activities of Citrosol at the recent International Citrus Congress were a huge hit,” said Citrosol managing director Benito Orihuel.

“The big attendance at our seminar and stand, the interest that we received in our scientific presentation delivered during the postharvest session and the congratulations we received following it were proof of our success at the event.

“Citrosol’s whole team feels hugely pleased with the results we achieved at the congress, not only in terms of the attendance at the seminar, but also in terms of the professional standard of the delegates, the majority of whom were exporters, opinion formers and scientists from across the globe,” added Orihuel.

In parallel to the event’s trade exhibition and technical sessions, Citrosol staged a seminar entitled, ‘An industrial approach to extend Citrus Shelf-Life’, on 20 November, which filled a conference hall for two hours despite competition from a number of workshops.

The seminar examined approaches to dealing with one of the biggest problems that citrus growers and exporters have to deal with – the fact that citrus is highly prone to decay, which can lead to substantial economic losses for all involved in the supply chain.

In fact, Citrosol pointed out that just one contaminated fruit can lead to the loss of pre-packs containing up to 30-35 fruits, with the problem especially prevalent in nets and other packs.

As if the problem was not demanding enough, consumer beliefs and NGO campaigns have led to the restriction of the use of conventional fungicides by non-regulatory Maximum Residue Level (MRL) requirements becoming the norm across Europe.
After a great deal of research, Citrosol told delegates it had come to the conclusion that the citrus industry’s dilemma can be solved in large part by “eliminating the chronic variability that current formulations, systems and application methods generate in packhouses.

Removing chronic variability, the company argued, can be achieved by improving chemical treatment formulations and fungicide suspensions in maintenance drenchers and watertanks.

The latter water-based treatments, it said, are a highly effective way of applying fungicide to reach every single fruit, with their effectiveness on the Decay Reduction Index (DRI) regularly scoring as high as 97-100 per cent.

Innovative solutions
The innovation that Citrosol has achieved through its Zero Spillage System is a means of maintaining the consistency of drencher fungicide treatments for the course of an entire season, while also avoiding spillages, meaning that the same mixture can be used effectively time and time again.

Other potential problems, such as the build-up of sludge and sand, are also constantly removed during each treatment process.

As well as this, the presentation addressed the urgent need to find alternative methods to control postharvest diseases following pressure from consumer groups to reduce or eliminate pesticide residues in fresh fruits and vegetables, including after postharvest treatment.

To meet such needs, Citrosol highlighted its recent development of products such as FORTISOL Ca+, which utilizes P and Ca salts during postharvest application to stimulate fruit’s natural defences and reduce the incidence of postharvest rind disorders.

Halting weight-loss
In its other major presentation during the congress, Citrosol’s researcher, Dr Javier Parra, presented a study during the postharvest physiology and pathology session, titled ‘Potassium sorbate increases citrus weight-loss in postharvest treatments but it does not provide good decay control in wax’.

Parra highlighted the fact that using drencher or watertank treatments within 24 hours of harvesting, along with the application of waxes containing fungicides have the best efficiency record in postharvest citrus decay control.

However, he argued that potassium sorbate, which is widely used as a food preservative, decreases the effectiveness of waxes to slow weight loss in citrus fruits, while its ability to control the onset of decay was also “really poor” compared with conventional wax treatments using Imazalil.

“Fruits waxed with a typical amount of 2 per cent potassium sorbate show even higher weight loss rate than non-waxed fruits, whereas decay reduction is only 25 per cent,” Parra said.

In fact, he said that treated with the preservative, Clementine leaves had shown in tests to become desiccated within only 24 hours, losing their fresh appearance and instead “looking old and brittle”.

The same effects were also repeated during parallel tests on plums and apples.
To reduce the negative effects of potassium sorbate, Citrosol again highlighted the benefits of FORTISOL Ca+, which in this case has proven in laboratory trials to reduce the rate of weight loss in citrus when added to postharvest drencher or watertank treatments containing the preservative.

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