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- Author or Editor: Nhlanhla Mathaba x
Preharvest factors such as poor orchard management and field sanitation can lead to pathological infection of the tree fruit being grown as well as insect pest infestation, resulting in poor postharvest fruit quality. Wind and hail damage may cause significant tree fruit abrasions and blemishes. Consequently, these preharvest factors may reduce yield and cause market and economic losses. One of the most successful methods used to manage tree fruit pathogens and insect infestation is the application of agrochemicals, predominantly fungicides and insecticides. However, this method has recently been criticized due to the adverse effects on field workers’ safety, consumers’ health, and the environment. The development and use of preharvest bagging are among the most environmentally friendly technologies intended for safe enhancement of tree fruit quality. The technique protects tree fruit against pathogens, insect pests, physiological disorders, agrochemical residues, fruit abrasions, sunburn, and bird damage, and it further modifies the microenvironment for fruit development with its various beneficial effects on its external and internal quality. Furthermore, because of the global restrictions of agrochemicals and social awareness, this technique provides extensive relief to growers and consumers. However, bagging is labor-intensive and expensive; therefore, its benefits or advantages and disadvantages must be thoroughly investigated if it is to be promoted commercially. This review examines the improvement of tree fruit quality by the application of preharvest bagging during early stages of fruit growth and development. The latest advances in the development and use of tree fruit bagging and its economic impact and cost–benefit ratio are discussed, as are recommendations for the formulation of bagging materials that could be valuable in the future.