Ready-to-eat salads, also known as fresh-cut or bagged salads, have steadily gained popularity since their introduction in Europe in the early 1980s. This popularity is expected to grow, marking opportunities for the fresh food industry. As this industry grows dynamically, so does the number of new diseases.
There are many reasons for this increase according to a new review in Plant Disease. First, these seasonal products are grown under high crop density in five to six cycles annually in the same specialized farms with a lack of adequate crop rotation and a shortage of applicable fungicides.
Additionally, international trade has moved crops away from their original environments to foreign soils, where they encounter new diseases. In some cases, very low levels of seed contamination can lead to the rapid emergence of new diseases in new geographic areas, resulting in severe losses, disrupting the environment's biological equilibrium, and sometimes launching a devastating epidemic.