2-Chloroethylphosphonic acid (Ethephon)
2-Chloroethylphosphonic acid, more commonly known as ethephon, is used as an active ingredient in pesticides. It serves as a plant growth regulator and can be applied in a variety of ways to control biological processes. Ethephon is absorbed by the plant tissue where it is metabolized and converted into ethylene. Ethylene naturally occurs as a growth hormone in plants, accelerating the growing and/or ripening process at higher concentrations. Ethephon is therefore used, for example, in order to induce blooming in conventional pineapple farming (so that the plants bloom and bear fruit at the same time), as well as to regulate the yield and promote ripening in apples, citrus fruits, figs, and tomatoes. For cherries and gooseberries, ethephon facilitates harvesting by detaching the fruit, and for bananas and mangos it is used to accelerate the ripening process after harvesting. However, ethephon can also be used in order to stabilize the stalks of cereal crops and inhibit the growth in length.
The use of ethephon is permitted in the European Union (EU), although there are different approval conditions applicable in the individual Member States. Aside from that, however, there are maximum residue levels that are valid throughout the EU, which may not be exceeded. The permitted maximum levels for ethephon, as well as for other pesticides, are stated in the Regulation (EC) No 396/2005.
The GBA Group has long-term experience testing for ethephon and carries out this routine analysis on a diverse range of fruit and vegetables by means of LC-MS/MS technology. We are gladly available to answer any questions you may have.