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UF study: Place bags on peaches to help keep pests, diseases away

Peaches are popular, with annual national production of about 806,000 tons. To help keep pests and diseases from damaging the fruit, growers can place bags around individual peaches, University of Florida researchers say.

David Campbell, a UF/IFAS post-doctoral researcher, led new research, funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Organic Research and Extension Initiative grant.

In the study, scientists from UF/IFAS put colored, paper bags on individual peaches at the Plant Science Research and Education Unit in Citra and at a commercial farm in Lake County.

They found that placing water-resistant bags around peaches, leaving the bags on the fruit throughout the growing season and removing them about seven days before harvest reduced injuries from insects and pathogens for organically grown peaches.

“Our findings demonstrate that bagging can be an effective strategy in conserving quality of specialty fruit,” said Danielle Treadwell, an associate professor of horticultural sciences who supervised Campbell’s study.

Even though Florida farmers plant and harvest peaches in the spring, growers who want to bag their fruit should order bags now, Treadwell said. She urges interested growers to contact her at ddtreadwell@ufl.edu to learn how to get your bags. Installing the bags is easy, as you can see here.

In peach-producing states (California, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida, among others), Florida peaches go to the market first each year. That means it’s important that the crop be as free as possible from pests and diseases so farmers produce more and so the fruit appeals to consumers, Treadwell said.

Growers harvest peaches as early as March in south-central Florida, she said. In May, peaches become available from Georgia, South Carolina and California, with peak domestic production running from June through August. That makes March, April and May the peak months for Florida Fresh Market peaches.

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The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS brings science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.

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