While plant disease is difficult to control in organic fruits, researchers at the University of Hawaii are studying essential oils to see if they might provide a solution.
Finding ways to improve feasibility and long-term profitability of organic fruit production is the basis of a nearly $2 million Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to a team of 15.
The team includes Associate Extension Agent Andrea Kawabata of the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources’ Cooperative Extension in Kailua-Kona.
The project is called, “Plant Safety, Horticultural Benefits, and Disease Efficacy of Essential Oils for Use in Organically Grown Fruit Crops: From the Farm to the Consumer.”
“The idea to research essential oils as a fungicide came about because there are very few fungicides that apply to tropical food crops or anything organically grown,” said plant pathologist Lisa Keith, who works for the USDA-Agricultural Research Service in Hilo. “There has been some lab research, but there hasn’t been much field research.”