Johanny Castro Chinchilla

Johanny Castro Chinchilla

  • Ph.D. Student
  • Advised by: Dr. Kari Peter
211 Buckhout Laboratory
University Park, PA 16802

Areas of Expertise

  • Post-harvest Pathology
  • Fresh produce quality
  • Musa spp. agronomic management


  • B.S., Agronomy with emphasis on Plant Sciences, University of Costa Rica, 2007
  • M.Sc.,Crop Protection, University of Costa Rica, 2015


As an undergraduate student and during my first years as an agronomist, I performed research and participated in extension programs focused on maximizing productivity in tropical crops. Recently, I participated in different projects aimed to improve the postharvest quality of fresh produce. This background increased my interest in achieving a better comprehension of the dynamics of pathogens in postharvest environments, and how this can help to improve or adopt new cost-effective management strategies of postharvest molds and rots.

By combining chemical, biological and cultural practices, fruit and vegetables decay can be reduced. However, a better understanding of the biology, physiology, and pathogenicity of spoilage microorganisms is necessary if cost-effective management practices are to be adopted by growers.

Research interests

  •         Management strategies to reduce postharvest rots and molds
  •         Biology and physiology of food spoilage microorganisms
  •         Control of postharvest rots in pome fruits
  •         Use of scientific information to design cost-effective plant disease management strategies
My research focuses on investigating the sources and fungicide resistance profile of fungi causing postharvest rots on apples, with emphasis on Penicillium spp. (blue mold). I am also interested in identifying other species that could be frequent pathogens of stored apples in the Mid-Atlantic (Pennsylvania and Maryland). My research also includes testing alternatives to synthetic fungicides, in order to offer management practices that apple growers can combine with chemical control or use as substitutes of postharvest synthetic fungicides.

Peer reviewed publications:

Solano-Maroto, J., Sáenz-Murillo, M.V., Castro-Chinchilla, J., Ramírez-Sánchez, M. 2021. Efecto del retraso entre la cosecha y el inicio de enfriamiento sobre la calidad de frutos de piña. Agronomía Costarricense 45(1): 115-127.

Cerdas-Araya, M., Castro-Chinchilla, J. 2017.  Postharvest characterization of tacaco (Sechium tacaco (Pittier) fruits in Cartago, Costa Rica. Agronomía Mesoamericana 28(1): 141-148.

Castro, J., Umaña, G. 2015.  Populations and identification of fungi causing postharvest molds on pineapple peduncles in two regions in Costa Rica. Agronomía Costarricense 39(3): 61-77.

Castro, J., Umaña, G. 2017.  Frequency of fungi associated to molds in the pedunculus on pineapples from two regions of Costa Rica. Agronomía Costarricense 41(2): 17-25.

Ulloa, L., Sáenz, M.V., Castro, J. 2015.  Effect of storage at different temperatures on external color and quality of pineapple fruits cv. Gold Extrasweet. Agronomía Costarricense 39(3): 9-20.

Symposium proceedings and abstracts

Castro, J., Jurick II, W.M., Peter, K.A. 2022. Making the case for packinghouse sanitation: A multi year survey of inoculum sources in the Mid-Atlantic apple fruit production and storage chain. Phytopathology 112(11S) S3.24.

Castro, J., Jurick II, W.M., Peter, K.A. 2020. Investigating sources and fungicide resistance profiles for apple rot fungi in commercial apple production to aid postharvest decay management. Plant Health 2020 Supplement 110 No 12S.

Castro, J., Peter, K. 2020. Investigating sources for postharvest apple rot fungi in the field and packhouse: conceptual framework and preliminary results. Proceedings of the 95th Annual Cumberland-Shenandoah Fruit Workers Conference. pp. 52 – 56.

Castro-Chinchilla, J., Umaña-Rojas, G. 2019. Yeasts and bacteria associated with pineapple fruit during postharvest handling. Acta Horticulturae 1239: 77-84

Sabater-Vilar, M., Suñé-Colell, E., Castro-Chinchilla, J., Sáenz-Murillo, M.V. 2018.  Reduction of postharvest rotting with an ethylene absorbent: a case study with pineapple. Acta Horticulturae 1194: 721-728.

Extension publications

Castro, J., Hartsock, J., Peter, K. 2023. Problem postharvest rots lurking: Investigating Alternaria rot and Bull's eye rot in PA and MD packinghouses. Pennsylvania Fruit News 103(1): 21-25.

Castro, J. and Peter, K. 2022. Identification, fungicide resistance profile, and management alternatives of pathogens causing postharvest rots on apples in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Fruit News 102(1): 18-23.

Castro, J. and Peter, K. 2021. Identification and fungicide resistance profile of pathogens causing postharvest rots on apples in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Fruit News 101(1): 45-47.

Castro, J. Peter, K. 2020. Investigating and understanding different sources for fruit rot fungi in the packhouse and field to better control postharvest decay of stored apple. Pennsylvania Fruit News. 100 (1): 29-31.

Humphreys, D., Flores, L., Castro, J. 2018. Yam tuber deterioration caused by plant-parasitic nematodes. In Spanish. Fittacori-University of Costa Rica. Available at: