Use of microwave energy and other thermal methods for eradicating fungi on agricultural seeds.
Improvements in seed quality can be made by controlled application of heat at defined seed moisture contents. In particular, a combined microwave-steam treatment has a high phytosanitary potential. To support these statements, sugarbeet seeds (Beta vulgaris var. altissima) were subjected to various thermal treatments to determine at what degree seedborne fungi (mainly Phoma betae [Pleospora betae]) were eradicated without reducing their seed germination potential. Compared with conventional convective methods, use of microwave energy makes it possible to kill the fungi within a few minutes. It is concluded that combined microwave-steam treatment does achieve seed disinfection without additional drying within a short processing time.