October 23, 2020 1 min read

📢 One such tool may be the use of essential oils. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded a nearly $2 million grant to a team of scientists for an Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative project to study the degree to which essential oils can help suppress certain pathogens and pests. In his role as a small fruit pathologist in the Department of Plant Pathology, Oliver will investigate the use of essential oils in organic blueberry production, the state’s top fruit crop.

Blueberries are the highest value fruit crop in Georgia, and organic blueberry production represents a growing proportion of our total acreage, said Oliver. Nonetheless, organic production of blueberries in Georgia faces many challenges, because our hot, humid climate is ideal for many disease issues including fruit rots and leaf spots. Evaluate the plant safety and horticultural impact of essential oils in managing diseases in fruits including blueberries, peaches, mangos and avocados.

Begin to test plant disease efficacy claims of essential oil products marketed for organic producers. Evaluate organically certified plant essential oils on targeted pathogens such as algal stem blotch, brown rot, scabs, gray mold and powdery mildew. Determine the efficiency of essential oils on fruit shelf life through postharvest testing.

Test the efficacy of essential oils against insects including scales, thrips and mites, although arthropod pests are not the primary focus of this research. After they gather their new data, participating scientists will communicate the results of their research to organic fruit farmers and those who grow conventional crops, so that those producers can rapidly adopt any new practices.

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