We evaluated radio frequency (RF) dielectric heating for eradication of pinewood nematodes (PWN) in infested wood. Thirteen temperatures were tested (from ambient to 70 °C) on small wood samples (2.5 × 3.8 × 0.64 cm) to determine the minimum lethal temperature (100 % mortality), which was 56 °C [based on infra-red (IR) thermal images data 55.5-57.4 °C] with a 1 min hold time. We also used thermal probes inside the wood to confirm that temperatures were ≥56 °C. Thirty additional samples were tested bracketing the minimum lethal temperature using 54, 56 and 58 °C with additional replications to produce the minimum sample size equivalent of 100 % mortality of at least 93,616 nematodes to satisfy the Probit 9 efficacy requirement. This minimum lethal temperature was further verified by treating infested large wood blocks (10.2 × 10.2 × 25.4 cm). All samples that met or exceeded the 56 °C lethal temperature for the required 1 min hold time (as measured by probes inserted in the wood and on the wood surface by IR) produced 100 % mortality. The sample size required to show Probit 9 efficacy was also satisfied. This study supports the consideration of RF in addition to microwave (MW) dielectric heating as alternative treatments of wood packaging material for inclusion in ISPM No. 15, provided the treatment delivers the target lethal temperature throughout the profile of the material in industrial scale operations.
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