Quarantine treatments should prevent the entry of a pest that exists in the exporting country, but does not exist in the country that imports the agricultural produce. Fruit flies constitute the main problem in the export of Israeli agricultural produce. Up until three years ago there were no commercial quarantine treatments for pomegranate, melon, and avocado fruits. Chemical treatments that combine the application of methyl bromide or ethyl bromide are not easy to apply and are usually banned by most countries. Heat treatments impair fruit quality and can be a breeding medium for contaminating bacteria. Quarantine treatment by radiation is expensive, complicated, and the European Union does not accept irradiated fruits. Therefore, the only viable option for quarantine treatment is cold-quarantine. Cold-quarantine treatment is the only treatment currently used in Israel. Nevertheless, it is applied only on cold-resistant fruits. In cold-sensitive fruits, such as melon, avocado and pomegranate, there is a need to increase the fruit’s resistance to chilling. To improve fruit resistance to cold, known treatments that reduce chilling injuries were administered. These included ripening, low-temperature conditioning, modified or controlled atmosphere, and heat treatment.
Research results in melons have demonstrated that hot rinsing and low-temperature conditioning reduced chilling injuries that develop in cold-quarantine, but not sufficient commercial quality. A combination of treatments with chilling-resistant varieties should be considered in the future.
Research results in pomegranate have shown that low-temperature conditioning combined with a harvest of late-season fruit can significantly reduce chilling injuries and have enabled cold-quarantine treatment. These led to the establishment of a cold-quarantine protocol, which is being applied in Israeli agriculture.
In avocado fruit, the optimal treatment against fruit flies incorporated low-temperature conditioning, controlled atmosphere, and wax. This treatment was found to be successful in a commercial trial that mimics the long transport of avocado to China or Japan. Based on this trial, the Japanese market has approved the import of Israeli avocado.
Based on two-year trials that were funded by ICA, encouraging initial results were recorded in melons for the future development of a cold-quarantine protocol. In avocado, a protocol for cold-quarantine was developed, which has opened the Japanese market and will probably soon be commercially applicable. In pomegranate a cold-quarantine, commercially applicable, protocol was established.