Citrus peel blemishes are considered as one of the major issues from marketing perspectives as they downgrade fruit quality resulting in high rejection at farm gate. Fruit blemishes are associated with various biotic (mites, thrips and other insects) and abiotic (wind rub etc.) factors. Keeping in view the increased awareness about pesticide use and food safety concerns in fresh produce, these two years studies were aimed to evaluate the potential of non-chemical approaches (Horticultural mineral oil, HMO, along with improved pruning practices) for the management of fruit blemishes in Kinnow mandarin. During first year, best HMO concentration was evaluated in combination with improved tree canopy management practices in comparison with control (farmer practice). During second year, the best performed treatment (1.5% HMO coupled with improved pruning) was again tested on Kinnow mandarin orchard in comparison with control (farmer practice), for confirmation. The overall results revealed that application of HMO at 1.5% along with improved pruning practice (removal of 5% additional biomass along with standard pruning practice) significantly increased the percentage of non-blemished and low-blemished fruit by reducing the insect pest population. The studies showed the potential of non-chemical approach to be used in integrated pest management (IPM) based program in Kinnow mandarin orchards. Besides improving cosmetic quality, it can also help the industry to address food safety concerns along with better maintained fruit quality.
Key words: Citrus reticulata, peel blemishes, insect attack, pesticides, pruning.
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