Martin John (MJ) Richard, an MSc student in the Fruit and Postharvest Pathology programme at Stellenbosch University (SU), won the Young Minds award at the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS) International Pear Symposium. The event was hosted at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) in January 2023.
Supervised by Drs Julia Meitz-Hopkins and Cheryl Lennox, MJ delivered a presentation on his Hortgro Science-funded project that examines the epidemiology and postharvest control of black rot in Forelle pears in the Western Cape. With South Africa being the fifth largest exporter of pears worldwide, postharvest decay caused by latent fungal pathogens can result in significant economic losses. Therefore, to maintain the quality of the shipped produce, postharvest fungicides are applied during packing. MJ’s study is the first to investigate postharvest control options for the emerging pathogens causing black rot in South Africa.
His research focused on the identification of emerging fungal pathogens of Forelle pears and the control of the main causal pathogen (Diplodia seriata) using registered postharvest fungicides, namely the active ingredients fludioxonil and pyrimethanil. MJ evaluated the efficacy of the two ingredients in vitro, followed by fruit trials using a lab drench.