Agriculture and Food Systems - Theses

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    Some applications of petroleum hydrocarbons to Australian horticulture
    Spicer, R. W ( 1946)
    For many years petroleum hydrocarbons have been used in horticulture. The most important applications have been in the field of economic entomology and emulsions of petroleum hydrocarbons are widely employed for the control of insect pests such as scale insects and acarine mites. Such emulsions are widely used on citrus, on dormant deciduous trees, and deciduous trees in various stages of development. Hydrocarbons with different physical properties are required for these different applications, depending on the requirements for safety, efficiency, and their provision at a minimum cost. There have, however, been other applications in which physiological results are sought. It has been the practice of many apple growers to apply emulsified petroleum hydrocarbons to stimulate the break of dormancy in the trees in spring. Similarly sprays of petroleum hydrocarbons have been used with a view to "waterproofing" cherries near maturity, so that in the event of rain, the absorption of water is limited, and the ensuing cracking of fruit is reduced. Yet again, there are useful applications in the storage of fruit. "Superficial scald" of Granny Smith apples is eliminated by using oiled wraps, while wilting of other fruits such as apples and all kinds of citrus in storage, is delayed by means of films of petroleum hydrocarbons. Two research projects in these fields with which the writer has been concerned over the period 1940-44 inclusive, are described below. They have been confined in the main to Victoria, but conditioned in many details by knowledge of horticultural problems in other States and directed towards an Australian wide application. The work falls logically into two sections - (1) Physiological - The application of emulsified petroleum hydrocarbons to vines, with a view to delaying the breaking of dormancy, thus passing the period of maximum frost liability in the dormant condition. (2) Insecticidal - The development of an insecticidal composition consisting essentially of dinitrocresol dissolved in petroleum hydrocarbons, and its possible applications to Australian horticulture. The former section was investigated by the writer in conjunction with officers of the C.S.I.R., Merbein; notably Mr. D. V . "'alters . The writer played a major part in the planning and performance of the trial, and the estimation and examination of results, but it cannot be claimed as individual research. The latter section was entirely planned and carried out by the writer and has led to the development of a horticultural insecticide which has been applied commercially for several years with success.