Methyl bromide alternatives studied Alternatives to methyl bromide have been, and are still continuing, to be a hot topic among many producers with vegetable growers expressing a tremendous interest.

Even though there is some discussion that there is a chance to keep methyl bromide for 10 years beyond the 2005 phaseout we cannot count on this becoming a reality.

Chemical companies, university research and Cooperative Extension are jointly studying different elements of this complex problem with alternatives to methyl bromide. Not only are we looking at possible alternative compounds, but also application methods, timing and uses.

It is interesting to see the many test sites being instigated with products, rates, application to different crops and resulting data expectations.

These test sites and plots are drawing on many expectations and ideas people have as to what might work and how the techniques might work.

Trials include fumigating land with methyl bromide, Telone-Cholorpicrin (TC-35), Vapam and some organic methods.

The idea of applying Telone-Cholorpicrin in-line and Vapam through the drip tube under plastic are also being looked at with different rates and procedures.

These are just a few of the products being tried under test conditions now.

Questions being asked about these methods include: How much product is needed, soil moisture effects before and after application, timing schedule and many more.

In the Wilson, N.C., area, many growers of vegetables on plastic are growing two crops on the same plastic in a season. With the economic benefit of using the same plastic and tape for two successive crops, many producers will be going this route if they can get control of fumigation techniques.

The weed, insect and disease pressure will be great on the second crop as the soil cannot be disturbed and the time element of rotation cannot be fully used.

One of the test plots installed in Wilson County is exploring injection of nematicide through drip tape under plastic after a spring crop and before planting the fall crop.

The presence of nematodes and galling of plant roots on the crop make for an excellent study of control with nematicides.

Twenty-five foot plots randomized in four treatments using several different nematicides at six, nine, or 12 gallons per acre and others at 18 gallons per acre were used.

This product was injected into the drip tubes under plastic by splicing in at the start of each plot and blocking the tube at the end of each plot. Nematode samples before applying chemicals, mid-season and at test-end should give us an idea of control.

Fall squash will be examined for root galling.

This on-farm test is being conducted with Frank Louws and Jim Driver of NCSU Plant Pathology.

Several chemical companies and researchers in other vegetable crops including strawberries, are testing products in a like manner. The findings at the end of the year may give us a lot of food for thought.

Growers interested in learning more about vegetable and fruit production, plus precision agriculture can do so at this year's Southeast Vegetable and Fruit Expo and AgTech 2000. The joint conference will take place Dec. 11-13 at the Sheraton Greensboro Hotel at Four Seasons in Greensboro, N.C.

Educational sessions on vegetables and precision agriculture, along with an extensive trade show will be held throughout the three-day event.

More information about Expo/Agtech 2000 is available from Bonnie Holloman at 919-772-2204, or email bhollom@bellsouth.net.

You can also access the Internet at http://www.soil.ncsu.edu/agtech2000.