Managing Weeds and Soilborne Pests with Fumigant and Non-Fumigant Alternatives to Methyl Bromide

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Virginia Tech


Methyl bromide (MBr) was widely used as a soil fumigant to manage soilborne pests in plasticulture vegetable production; however, it has been banned by the United Nations Environment Programme. Alternatives to MBr must be implemented to sustain fresh market tomato productivity. Possible MBr alternatives include new fumigant compounds, improved plastic mulch, and grafting. Methyl iodide (MeI) and dimethyl disulfide (DMDS) were tested as fumigant alternatives to MBr for the control of yellow nutsedge and soilborne pathogens of tomato. Virtually impermeable film (VIF) and totally impermeable film (TIF) were tested for fumigant retention and yellow nutsedge control in tomato. Grafting onto resistant rootstocks was tested for bacterial wilt and nematode management in tomato. In the absence of a soil fumigant, TIF suppressed yellow nutsedge better than VIF. TIF increased fumigant retention compared to VIF at similar application rates. Reduced fumigant application rates could be used in combination with TIF while maintaining fumigant concentrations, weed control, and crop yields comparable to greater use rates with VIF. Shank applied DMDS rates could be lowered to 281 L/ha under TIF from 468 L/ha under VIF; shank applied MeI application rates could be reduced to 56 L/ha under TIF compared to 93 L/ha under VIF and drip applied DMDS could be reduced from 561 L/ha under VIF film to 374 L/ha under TIF. Grafting susceptible commercial tomato cultivars onto resistant tomato hybrid rootstocks increased yields and plant survival in bacterial wilt infested fields. "Cheong Gang", "BHN 998", and "BHN 1054" were the best performing rootstocks for bacterial wilt resistance and tomato fruit yield in severely infested fields. Grafting increased tomato yield and decreased root galling from root-knot nematodes in an infested field. Hybrid rootstock "RST 106" resulted in the lowest root-knot nematode galling. In conclusion, TIF with reduced rates of DMDS or MeI is a viable MBr alternative for fresh market tomato production to retain effective doses of fumigant, manage yellow nutsedge and maintain yields. Grafting is an effective MBr alternative to manage bacterial wilt and root-knot nematode and maintain tomato yields.



TIF, methyl iodide, fumigation, VIF, dimethyl disulfide, methyl bromide alternative, grafting, bacterial wilt, yellow nutsedge, virtually impermeable film, totally impermeable film, weeds, root-knot nematode, diseases, chemigation, drip applied fumigant, tomato