Georgia researcher looks at 4 methyl bromide alternative systems

04/25/2013 09:29:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

soil fumigant studyCourtesy University of GeorgiaMembers of a University of Georgia research team plant a trial involving four different soil fumigant systems.Although methyl bromide is still available in limited quantities for a few crops, many vegetable growers in Georgia don't even want to consider the soil fumigant.

In fact, they've recommended that Stanley Culpepper, a University of Georgia weed scientist based in Tifton, not pursue a critical use exemption for methyl bromide in 2014 because of its high cost and the availability of alternatives, according to a news release.

But finding the right alternative or alternatives hasn't been easy.

Culpepper and his colleagues have spent nearly 10 years on research into overall soilborne pest control programs.

The latest research involves four systems that all use plasticulture, or plastic mulch.

The three-way program uses Telone II, metam sodium and chloropicrin.

Although it is the most economical, it's also complex.

Nevertheless, it's replace methyl bromide on about 70 percent of the acres in Georgia.

Another option is Trifecta, a blend of Telone II, chloropicrin and DMDS or dimethyl disulfide.

Although Trifecta still is in development, Culpepper said he's optimistic that research will yield a better, yet economical, pest control.

The third alternative is Paladin Pic, which involves a blend of 79 percent DMDS and 21 percent chloropicrin.

The mix is effective on nutsedge and nematodes, but an herbicide is needed to control annual grasses and broadleaf weeds.

Because of the DMDS component, the blend smells like propane, so applicators need to be careful about off-target odor issues.

Culpepper is working with Tri-Est Ag on a fourth alternative that is expected to offer growers even more flexibility.

Because the alternative warrants further study, Culpepper won't discuss results until the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference in Savannah in January 2014.

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