METHYL BROMIDE RATE REDUCTION AND MULCH EFFECT ON NUTSEDGE CONTROL

in HortScience
Authors:
Bielinski M. SantosGulf Coast Research and Education Center, IFAS–University of FL (bmsantos@ufl.edu)

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James P. GilreathGulf Coast Research and Education Center, IFAS–University of FL (bmsantos@ufl.edu)

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Myriam N. SihamGulf Coast Research and Education Center, IFAS–University of FL (bmsantos@ufl.edu)

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Camille E. EsmelGulf Coast Research and Education Center, IFAS–University of FL (bmsantos@ufl.edu)

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In Florida, nutsedge (Cyperus spp.) is a major weed problem in mulched-vegetable production. As methyl bromide (MBr) is phased out, alternatives are essential for growers. However, because of critical use exemptions, growers will still be able to use restricted amounts of MBr. Therefore, using highly-retentive mulch, such as virtually impermeable film (VIF), can reduce fumigant loss and may allow rate reduction without compromising efficacy. Preliminary studies have shown that metalized mulches can be an alternative to VIF. However, further studies are needed to compare MBr retention properties and nutsedge control of high density polyethylene (HDPE) mulch, VIF, and metalized mulch. Two field studies were conducted in spring 2005, in Ruskin, Florida. Metalized and HDPE mulches, and VIF were combined with the following rates of MBr + chloropicrin (Pic) (67/33, w/w): 175 and 350 lb/acre. Methyl bromide retention was evaluated in soil air samples at 1, 2, 4, and 6 days after treatment (DAT). Nutsedge plants were counted at 2, 4, 7, 9, and 12 weeks after treatment (WAT). Data were examined with regression analysis to establish the relationship between the time and both MBr concentration and nutsedge densities. Concentration of MBr + Pic under either the metalized mulch or VIF was about 6 times higher than under HDPE at 5 DAT, regardless of the MBr + Pic rate. At 12 WAT, nutsedge population was <1 plant/50 ft row with metalized and VIF and 175 lb/acre of MBr + Pic, whereas about 25 plants/50 ft row were present with 350 lb/acre of the fumigant and HPDE. The weed population reached >100 plants/50 ft row with 175 lb/acre of MBr + Pic. These findings demonstrate that metalized and VIF mulches can provide effective control of nutsedge with one-half of the commercially used MBr + Pic rate.

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