The million dollar question

04/01/2008 02:00:00 AM

During the first year, Crocker says he learned to wait at least 24 hours after punching holes in the plastic to allow the gas to dissipate before transplanting young strawberry plants. Otherwise, the plants may be stunted because DMDS is a much slower moving gas than methyl bromide.

“Other than that, the control was outstanding,” he says.

Time will tell
Carl Grooms, manager of Fancy Farms Inc. of Plant City, volunteered a 1 1/2-acre plot of virgin ground to test Paladin and Midas during the 2007-08 season.

“The nutsedge just totally ate us up, so we went in and pulled the nut grass plants out so we can have a crop,” Grooms says. “Compared to methyl bromide, that’s going back 50 years ago.”

Using a hand weeding crew would be too costly for commercial fields, he says.

Outside of the nutsedge problems, Grooms and Crocker say the crop appeared to be growing and producing well in mid-January. The real test comes near the end of the season.

“We want to continue to watch the tests for a couple of months from now to see whether we get infestations of soil-borne disease and nematodes,” Grooms said in mid-January. “By the end of March or mid-April, if infestations take over, I can tell you.”

Allan blames Grooms' nutsedge control problems on less-than-optimum soil conditions during fumigation. Arysta has conducted numerous trials with Midas and other fumigants on virgin ground for up to four years with much different results, he says.

“There’s a marked difference on what’s going to be a viable crop, as with Midas, and what’s going to be a problematic crop, as with the alternatives,” Allan says.

Grooms also has a 10-acre Midas trial on strawberry ground that’s been historically fumigated with methyl bromide. In that trial, nutsedge is not a problem.

“Any farmer on existing ground that has been farming could get by with any of these alternatives for a couple of years,” Grooms says. “But every year he farms, the problems will build up. So these tests need to be done for four to five years to see how bad things can get.”

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