What is in this article?:
- Georgia vegetable growers working around loss of methyl bromide
- Alternatives more complex
• Stanley Culpepper and his team are researching four systems to replace methyl bromide on farms that use plasticulture — a planting technique used in commercial vegetable production where black plastic is stretched over planting rows to reduce water loss and block weeds.
MEMBERS of Stanley Culpepper's team conducts a trial that is comparing methyl bromide to Paladin Pic, Trifecta, and the UGA 3-WAY. Tim Richards is driving. Ansley Burgess and Breanna Daniel are planting.
Alternatives more complex
The alternatives are more complex because they require a systems approach using three fumigants applied appropriately or two fumigants and a herbicide program.
According to Culpepper, the complexity level has increased but Georgia growers have handled the challenges.
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One alternative being used is the UGA 3-way system that uses Telone II, metam sodium, and choloropicrin; each applied at the appropriate place in the soil profile to maximize pest activity. This is the most economical but, it is a very complex system, Culpepper said. He estimates it has replaced methyl bromide on about 70 percent of the acres in Georgia.
What is most advantageous is the low-density polyethylene mulch that can be used. Farmers love this because the plastic lasts for an extended period of time allowing them to produce numerous crops.
Also, in 25 of 26 spring UGA studies during the past seven years, it was found to control more than 93 percent of the nutsedge, the most challenging pest for most growers.
Another option is Trifecta, a much easier application that combines Telone II, chloropicrin and DMDS. Culpepper points out that Trifecta is still in development, but he is optimistic 2013 research will result in better, yet economical pest control.
The third alternative is the Paladin Pic that includes a 79:21 mixture of DMDS: chloropicrin. It is highly effective in controlling nutsedge and nematodes, but herbicides are needed to control annual grasses and broadleaf weeds.
Paladin Pic smells like propane, so applicators are advised to mitigate off target odor issues.
This year, working in cooperation with Tri-Est Ag, Culpepper believes he has found a fourth alternative that will offer growers even more flexibility.
Culpepper is mum about the alternative as it warrants further study. The alternative will be discussed in depth at the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference set for Savannah in January 2014.
Culpepper added that crops being produced on plasticulture have a Georgia farm gate value exceeding $300 million.
Finding an alternative to methyl bromide has been critical in sustaining the production of vegetables in the U.S.