A research team has found success combating plant diseases—specifically powdery mildew on strawberries—using UV light.


Powdery mildew is one of many plant diseases that affects Florida agriculture, specifically strawberries. A research team’s breakthrough may make plant diseases like powdery mildew a thing of the past, thanks to UV light treatments. A Vegetable and Specialty Crop News (VSCNews) article shared the details; see them below.

Using UV Light to Combat Plant Diseases


The research utilizes shortwave UV light, or “…the germicidal portion of the solar spectrum,” said David Gadoury, a senior research associate in Cornell’s Department of Plant Pathology. Similar technology is used in industrial and hospital settings, and it mimics the UV light coming from the sun, though the article notes that such UV rays are usually absorbed by the ozone layer before reaching earth.

Gadoury has been working with an international research team, including scientists from Norway’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Lighting Research Center and Florida’s University of Florida. The team reached a breakthrough when they found the UV light was much more effective when used at night, when powdery mildew’s natural resistance to UV light from the sun is shut down. “Powdery mildew, along with many other organisms, has the capacity to repair damage caused by UV as it occurs, as long as it is coming from natural sources like the sun,” Gadoury shared in the article.

“The organisms have evolved to upregulate the UV repair mechanisms in the presence of visible light from the sun, but the mechanism is also shut off at night, because there’s an energy cost to fixing damage from UV,” he explained. Researchers were able to use a lower dosage of UV light that  suppressed the powdery mildew and did not damage the strawberry plants.

According to the article, “Gadoury encouraged growers to stay engaged with this research,” sharing the project’s website: Light and Plant Health. Trials with grower cooperators are now underway. “We can do all these projects in controlled conditions, but the real learning takes place in a grower’s field,” Gadoury stated.

Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.