fresh tomatoes

Equipment Sanitation: Keeping Tomato Fields Safe from Pests and Diseases

Brian German Fruits & Vegetables, Tomatoes

Efforts to mitigate the spread of pests and diseases within tomato production include developing better strategies for equipment sanitation. While harvesters present the biggest risk, other pieces of equipment are also evaluated for their propensity for moving pests between fields. Extension Specialist at UC Davis, Dr. Cassandra Swett said they are working with industry members to look at improving trailer sanitation practices.

Equipment Sanitation

“Every trailer once it goes through the field comes back to the cannery. So, there’s really a wonderful opportunity there to do effective trailer sanitation and that’s something the industry has been very receptive towards,” said Swett. “That is another piece of this puzzle that we’re working on is reducing the risk of spread on trailers and other pieces of equipment.”

Researchers have understood that pests within plant material and soil are being moved around by equipment for quite some time. However, Swett notes that the issue is still somewhat of a poorly researched area. The movement of the different types of equipment without adequate sanitation can exacerbate a variety of issues in tomato fields. “That’s nematodes, and that’s fungal pathogens, and that’s broomrape seeds, and other things,” Swett explained.

Coordinated efforts with the California Tomato Research Institute are helping to further research related to equipment sanitation. The proliferation of the quarantine pest broomrape has been a significant driver in sanitation research efforts. Information will continually be provided to industry members as it becomes available, to help mitigate the spread of pests and diseases. Swett said there are still several questions that will need to be answered as the research continues to move forward.

“What do we know about what sanitizers are effective? What conditions are needed for those sanitizers to be effective? What are high-risk areas that are critical control points that are not being effectively cleaned?” said Swett. “And what can we do about it?”

About the Author

Brian German

Facebook Twitter

Ag News Director, AgNet West