Would You Like Wood or Plastic? Bin Material, Sanitation Treatments, and Bin Inoculum Levels Impact Blue Mold Decay of Stored Apple Fruit

Wayne M. Jurick, Mei Wah Choi, Verneta L. Gaskins, Kari A. Peter, Kerik D. Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Blue mold, caused primarily by Penicillium expansum, is a significant postharvest disease of apples. It not only causes economic losses but also produces mycotoxins that contaminate processed fruit products, which contributes to food waste and loss. Previous research has shown that packing and storage bins harbor Penicillium spores and that steam and hot water efficiently reduce spore inoculum levels. However, studies using wooden and plastic bins regarding their ability to harbor spores, the effect of chemical sanitation treatments on spore levels, and the impact of rinsate from treated bins on apple fruit decay have not been investigated for the Mid-Atlantic area (Okull et al. 2006; Rosenberger 2009). We evaluated different sanitation treatments (chemical and physical) to reduce P. expansum inoculum levels on wooden and plastic bins. We determined that wooden bins bound P. expansum spores four orders of magnitude higher than plastic. When both bin types were treated with steam (wooden) or sterile hot water (plastic), Thyme Guard, or Academy, all treatments resulted in significantly (P < 0.05) lower spore levels compared to untreated controls. Although, plastic bins retained lower numbers of spores after inoculation with contaminated spore rinsate and required much higher concentrations of P. expansum spores in rinsate to retain spores at levels that would lead to decay on apple fruit. Overall, we demonstrated that plastic bins retain fewer spores than wooden bins and that both can be sanitized by various physical or chemical treatments. We envision that our findings will be applicable in the future as the techniques implemented in this study were used to investigate industry-relevant questions. Our goal is that the research techniques and findings become feasible with advancements in technology and/or accompany other shifts in existing processes in commercial pome fruit packing and storage facilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1177-1182
Number of pages6
JournalPlant disease
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science

Cite this