Despite all those precautions, official odor complaints still numbered 38 -- and, he says, likely many more unofficial complaints circulated as well.
New products in the pipeline
Vallad has tested Dominus, a bio-fumigant containing allyl isothiocyanate, or oil of mustard, and currently is working with Nimitz (fluensulfone), a nematicide from MANA applied to the soil before planting.
Several field trials showed Dominus provides "fairly good efficacy" against low to moderate levels of weeds, Vallad says.
Nematode and disease control were similar to other methyl bromide alternatives.
Dominus doesn't have a strong vapor phase, however. Its best fit may be for small- to medium-sized operations, he says.
Vallad also sees promise in Trifecta, especially if the manufacturer moves into custom blends to reduce odor issues and to better handle different weather conditions.
"But the question for us is, “Will it handle our nematode and soil disease issues? Vallad says.
All the new fumigants cost less than the current price of methyl bromide -- where it's available, Culpepper says.
But that's only part of the equation.
"The bottom line is how are the crops responding? Our yields are going down," DiMare says. "Are you able to maintain a consistent yield?"
Inconsistent results make calculations even harder, he says.
Ultimately that will shake out the industry. Growers will "either get better at it or get out," Di Mare says.
click image to zoomPhotos: Gary Vallad, University of FloridaBoth images involve research plots treated with (left to right) methyl bromide:chloropicrin 50:50 (350 pounds per treated acre); non-fumigated check; and PicChlor60 (300 pounds per treated acre). The photo on the left shows moderate nutsedge pressure; the photo on the right shows heavy nutsedge pressure. Regardless, Mbr 50:50 stands out the best in both.