Direct yield loss

Single vegetable Brassica plants have high individual cash values. Pest and pathogen damage to even small percentages of a crop can have devastating effects on yields and economic returns. Indeed, even the presence of only slight blemishes may make produce unacceptable to the market and hence totally valueless. Consequently, the impact of damage is not directly correlated with the incidence and intensity of pathogen or pest population as is often the case with extensive agricultural crops. A range of forms of loss may arise in Brassica crops throughout the supply chain from the field to the point of retail sale, for example:

  • failure of growth and reproduction by individual plants in the field;
  • damage to the saleable portions of the plant in the field;
  • distortion of the harvesting sequence with consequent failure to reach the desired market at an optimal time and maximum value;
  • rejection during harvesting, grading or display;
  • development of blemishes in transit, during storage or at points of sale;
  • downgrading during the marketing chain;
  • total rejection at any point from field to retail sale.

The consumer increasingly fails to recognize the connection between demands for reduced use of pesticides in food production and the likelihood of increasing the frequency of blemishes developing. Consumers are not prepared to accept Brassica products where there are signs of pest activity, eggs, larvae or frass, nor areas of disease symptoms caused by pathogen infection.

These demands expressed through supermarket buyers, for blemish- and pesticide-free produce, are driving strenuous research and development programmes which aim to find alternative approaches to pest and pathogen control.

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