Nordic Apple Network: Towards decreasing post harvest losses in apple by knowledge exchange and capacity building


Coordinator: Larisa Gustavson, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Period: 2020-2022

Meeting May 18-19 2021

This is the networks focus:

To better satisfy consumers’ demand for locally produced apples available all year around, higher fruit production and longer storage time are the most urgent tasks in Nordic countries.

One of the major challenges in apple is high postharvest losses of fruit due fungal decay, physiological disorders and reduced quality when the fruit reaches consumers. These main problems are very closely inter-connected, therefore any crop management and cropping time decisions will influence each and all of them in a complex way.

Worsened in Nordic conditions

Different stages of mold on apples. Photo.
Photo: Tuuli Haikonen, LUKE

Storage rots cause significant post-harvest losses everywhere in the world, but in Nordic countries this problem is especially urgent since pre-harvest application of fungicides is very restricted and post-harvest application – completely prohibited. Limited access to alternative measures, rather limited knowledge on disease progression, lack of efficient monitoring tools for quiescent infections resulted in the situation when the problems with fungal storage diseases, e.g., bitter rot (Colletotrichum sp.) and Neofabraea-rot, being significant before, recently became much more severe.

The infections take place in the orchards, but the diseases remain in the quiescent state and are mainly expressed after some time of storage. Furthermore, several emerging apple post-harvest pathogens have been reported in other European countries and may become more common in Nordic countries because of climate change or via plant trade. As complete genetic resistances to complex post-harvest pathogens are not expressed in commercially released cultivars, breeding for resistance is difficult.

Scandinavian overview

In this network project, experts and stakeholders from Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark will unite their forces towards minimizing post-harvest losses through improved plant health via better knowledge of epidemiology, novel monitoring tools, knowledge on cultivar pre- and postharvest physiology and resistance, adapted growing technologies and soil management.

We aim to exchange and assemble knowledge about the current situation with storage diseases in Scandinavia, make an overview over current research and identify potential research topics of mutual interest for all the involved countries. This network will consolidate Nordic researchers and stakeholders and create a basis for coordinated need-driven research projects.