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Can UV-C reduce grey mold in strawberry?

Grey mould is another major fungal infection in strawberry besides mildew, caused by Botrytis cinerea. To control both diseases, regular applications of fungicides are required. If UV-C has an effect on Botrytis, this could further alleviate farmers dependence on chemical pest control.

Effect of UV-C on Botrytis infection limited

In a double cropping cultivation strawberry flowers were inoculated with Botrytis and subsequently exposed to 0, 3, 6, 12 or 20 mJ/cm² UV-C three times a week for two months. Harvested strawberries were inspected three time for the infection rate of grey mould. There was no consistent trend in the three assessments. When looking at the combination of all the assessments, applying 20 mJ/cm² UV-C reduced the total amount of disease infection compared to the lower doses of UV-C. From this trial we can conclude that the application of UV-C during the day can slightly reduce the infection of Botrytis.

High dose of UV-C detrimental for yield in double cropping

The harvest of all objects was also registered from start to finish during the double cropping trial where the effect of UV-C on Botrytis was tested. The plants in this trial were planted in mid-August and strawberries were first harvested from October till December. After an overwintering in the glass house, the trial started during the second cropping period whereof fruits were harvested from April until May. The total yield and amount of large berries from the plants treated with 20 mJ/cm² UV-C was lower. It is likely that older plants from a double cropping are more vulnerable to UV-C and a prolonged exposure will reduce the production potential. A high dose of UV-C in these cultivations should therefore be avoided.

Yield (kg/m²) and grading of different treatments in trial. Percentage for small and large (2A + A) strawberries are indicated on the graph.

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