Mitigating Effects of Environmental Stress on Fruit Crops

Las Vegas (August 2020) – Farmers and scientists worldwide are working on technology to help mitigate the effects of environmental stress on fruit and vegetable crops. Breakthrough technologies from Cultiva® are providing peace of mind, higher yields and longer shelf life for growers in the West Coast of the U.S. and around the world.

In recent years and thus far in 2020, occurrences of extreme weather in the West Coast region of the U.S. demonstrates the impact and cost to all types of growers, including high-value crops like cherries, grapes and nuts. Cultiva is at the forefront of helping growers protect crops from the effects of excessive water, heat and even damage from smoke as a result of environmental conditions creating raging wildfires.

Parka®, a proprietary product of Cultiva, has been shown to protect crops from these environmental issues. Parka is composed of food-grade phospholipids that supplement the plant cuticle – a plant’s first line of defense between the environment and the epidermal cells. Spray application forms an elastic, protective shield to maintain the integrity of fruit and foliage even as the crop develops. Parka helps growers increase their plants’ tolerance to environmental stress, improve fruit quality and yield at harvest, and extend shelf life.

The above average rains occurring in cherry and apple regions in the U.S., for example, could have a devastating affect at harvest. High precipitation can cause cracking in cherries and stem-end splitting in apples. Early applications of Parka reduce the development of micro-fractures in the cuticle leading to less cracking, higher yield and a more uniform harvest. Testing is also showing that post-harvest applications to cherry trees can help mitigate heat stress, resulting in improved crop health and higher yields in future harvests, including minimizing cherry doubling.

Smoke from wildfires can cause a devastating condition called smoke-taint in wine grapes. This recently became evident to wine-grape growers in Australia, Spain and some parts of California in the U.S. when full seasons of production were lost as a result of smoke affecting the taste of wine at the completion of the vintage. Parka has shown to be an effective treatment to protect wine grapes from damage due to smoke.

“Our first product utilizing SureSeal Technlogy – Parka, has exceeded our expectations since the beginning,” said Luis Hernandez, CEO of Cultiva. “It’s proving effective on many crops, and the safe and soft nature of the ingredients designate the product as ‘exempt from tolerance’, allowing limitless applications per season and no pre-harvest interval. Parka is environmentally friendly and safe for workers, beneficial insects and ultimately the consumer.”

Why Parka?
Parka is an easily sprayable product that is compatible with most other crop protection products. International studies from Spain, Chile, Canada and the United States show that applying Parka protects the surfaces of numerous fruit, vegetable and nut crops, plants and trees from rain, heat-related and air-quality complications. The key is to start Parka applications at fruit set, so it can continue to strengthen the cuticle layer during the most vulnerable time in the growing process.

Scientists at Cultiva have been working on methods to assist the natural protective properties of fruits, vegetables and foliage. Research shows that supplementing the plant cuticle with Parka has numerous benefits, including suppressing cracking; reducing sunburn and heat stress; and reducing disease incidence by preventing microfractures and minimizing entry points for pathogens into the fruit.

A Columbia University article states agriculture as the most vulnerable sector to climate conditions. For example, the National Academy of Sciences calculates that for every rising degree Celsius, crop production decreases 5 to 15 percent. Stated another way, a 5 to 15 percent decrease in grape production would result in losses of $330 to $990 million in the United States.