Pruning tools and grafting knives can transmit viral diseases if they are not sterilized after working on one plant before beginning to work another plant. Sterilizing tools should be more widely practised by individual fruit growers and never be overlooked in nursery propagation operations.
Paul Moore (1989, p.13) presented the tool sterilization technique used at the University of California, Riverside (UCR). As the UCR procedure contains a remedy to prevent corrosion of the tools, it is repeated here.
In the second bath, the vinegar stops the corrosive action of the sodium hypochlorite and the oil restores the lubrication to the moving parts.
To sterilize pruning/grafting tools:
Dip them in the following for 2 seconds:
1 part household bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite)
5 parts tap water
Then dip the tools immediately into:
1 part vinegar (5% acetic acid)
5 parts water
1/4 part salad oil
Dry tools and use.
Moore, Paul. 1989. A recipe for sterilizing tools. Indoor Citrus & Rare Fruit Soc. 28: 13.
DATE: July 1994
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