Producing apples with minimal residues


Today’s consumer has high expectations for perfect, blemish-free fruit that are also free of crop protection product residues. Several important retailers in the UK have responded to this expectation and are asking their suppliers to strive towards elimination of residues from fresh produce including apples, to maintain and improve consumer trust.

The incidence of detectable residues has declined, as post-harvest treatments are no longer frequently used, but considerable further adjustment of pest and disease management practices is needed to meet customers’ future requirements.

However, the main UK apple varieties Cox, Gala, Braeburn and Bramley are susceptible to all the major pests and diseases and the UK climate ensures that one or other of these problems is significant in most seasons. So to produce perfect apples that are also free of crop protection product residues is a very high expectation. The challenge is therefore to develop crop protection systems that satisfy the consumer, but that are also profitable and sustainable for the grower. There are two approaches to producing apples free of residues:

  • Extending the harvest interval of crop protection products used in the post-blossom period to ensure residue free.
  • Not using conventional products after petal fall i.e. zero residue management system (ZRMS).

In some high pest and disease risk seasons a combination of the two approaches may be necessary.