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Carlene A. Chase, Thomas R. Sinclair, Daniel O. Chellemi, Stephen M. Olson, James P. Gilreath, and Salvadore J. Locascio

Although summer soil solarization is a viable technique for the control of soilborne pests, periods of cloudy skies and high rainfall typical of the southeastern United States limit the heating of soils. This study was devised to evaluate whether polyethylene films designed for improved heat conservation could increase soil solarization temperatures under humid environmental conditions. Soil solarization was conducted in Summer 1996 at Quincy, Gainesville, and Bradenton: located in north, north central, and west central Florida, respectively. Temperatures at soil depths of 5, 10, and 25 cm were higher under clear solarization films than under black polyethylene. A clear, thermal-infrared absorbing film (TIR) was consistently more effective in increasing soil temperature than was a double-layered, clear bubble film or a 30 μm clear, low-density polyethylene film. Soil temperatures under all film types were reduced by rainfall, but remained highest under TIR film. On cloudy days with light rainfall, temperatures under TIR film exceeded 45 °C at 5 cm depth. Soil temperatures rose rapidly when rainy weather was followed by a clear day. Cumulative exposure to temperatures ≥45 and 50 °C was greater with the TIR film than with the other films, indicating that it has the greatest potential for soil solarization in humid climates.

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Thomas E. Marler and Patrick D. Lawton

Temperature and chlorophyll fluorescence characteristics were determined on leaves of various horticultural species following a dark adaptation period where dark adaptation cuvettes were shielded from or exposed to solar radiation. In one study, temperature of Swietenia mahagoni (L.) Jacq. leaflets within cuvettes increased from ≈36C to ≈50C during a 30-minute exposure to solar radiation. Alternatively, when the leaflets and cuvettes were shielded from solar radiation, leaflet temperature declined to 33C in 10 to 15 minutes. In a second study, 16 horticultural species exhibited a lower variable: maximum fluorescence (Fv: Fm) when cuvettes were exposed to solar radiation during the 30-minute dark adaptation than when cuvettes were shielded. In a third study with S. mahagoni, the influence of self-shielding the cuvettes by wrapping them with white tape, white paper, or aluminum foil on temperature and fluorescence was compared to exposing or shielding the entire leaflet and cuvette. All of the shielding methods reduced leaflet temperature and increased the Fv: Fm ratio compared to leaving cuvettes exposed. These results indicate that heat stress from direct exposure to solar radiation is a potential source of error when interpreting chlorophyll fluorescence measurements on intact leaves. Methods for moderating or minimizing radiation interception during dark adaptation are recommended.

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C. Stevens, V. A. Khan, A. Y. Tang, and R. M. Cody

Field plots on Norfolk sandy loam soil at Tuskegee and Eufaula, AL were treated by soil solarization (SS). Samples rhizsosphere (R) and nonrhizosphere soil from cole crop and strawberry plots were collected and assayed with selective media for population densities of microbes involved in organic decomposition and mineralization. Microflora population densities of bacteria, actinomycetes and fungi increased 2-7 folds in the solarized compared to the bare soil (BS). Microflora population densities in the soils involved in cellulose and protein decomposition, ammonification, nitrification, phosphate mineralization were greater in solarized soil compared to BS. Nitrogen-fixing bacteria in R soil 7 months after SS was higher when compared to BS at Tuskegee, but was reduced 50 folds 18 months after SS.

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David G. Himelrick, Floyd M. Woods, and W.A. Dozier Jr.

The use of soil solarization on 20-cm raised beds 30, 60, and 90 days prior to fall planting of `Chandler' strawberries was compared with soil fumigation with 269 kg·ha–1 98/2 methylbromide/choropicrin and with 562 liters·ha–1 metam-sodium (Busan). The clear plastic mulch was painted with white latex paint prior to planting on 15 Oct. Methylbromide/choropicrin treatment gave the best yields, followed by the metam-sodium treatment. Soil solarization on raised beds was complicated by weed growth on the top edges and sides of the bed. Soil solarization is a useful alternative for flat bed culture, but is practically limited on raised beds due to insufficient weed control.

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C. Stevens, V.A. Khan, L.D. Ploper, P. Backman, R. Rodriguez-Kabana, D.J. Collins, J.E. Brown, and M.A. Wilson

Combinations of solarized soil (SBS), bare soil control (BS), black plastic mulched soil (BM), row cover (RC), fungicide (chlorothalonil) and biological treatments (Bacillus cereus) were evaluated. SBS vs. BS treatments were main plots, mulch and row covers splitplots and foliage treatments split-splitplots. Application of either foliar treatment was superior to BS. Using a 1/2 rate of fungicide on plants from solarized soil treatments showed equal or comparable reduction of the disease when compared to tomatoes grown in BS with high rates of the fungicide. Combined treatments of solarized + BM, BM with or without RC and low rate of fungicide or biological agent, were the most effective when compared to BS + fungicide, indicating that integration of plasticulture and biological strategies can reduce early blight below the levels of commercial fungicide applied to tomatoes grown on BS.

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C. Stevens, V. A. Khan, J. Y. Lu, M. A. Wilson, Z. Haung, and J. E. Brown

In 1988 and 1989 a muscadine vineyard at Tuskegeee, Alabama was treated by post plant soil solarization (PSS) (covering of moist soil around 'Carlos' muscadine plants (Vitis rotundifolia Michx.) with clear polyethylene plastic mulch to achieve high soil temperature for 30 and 75 days, respectively during PSS. Grape plants grown in solarized soils showed increases in growth response such as increased yield. Foliage of grape plants was evaluated for reaction to black rot incited by Guignardia bidwellii. A significant reduction of the foliage disease black rot was observed. The number of lesions per leaf, lesion size and percent leaves with lesions were significantly reduced by as much as 56% up to three years after solarization.

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C. Stevens, V. A. Khan, J. Y. Lu, M. K. Kabwe, Z. Haung, M. A. Wilson, and J. E. Brown

In 1988 and 1989 a muscadine vineyard at Tuskegee, Alabama was treated by post soil solarization (PSS) (covering of moist soil around muscadine plants with clear polyethylene plastic mulch to achieve high soil temperature) for 30 and 75 days, respectively. The average soil temperature in 1989 of 50 and 35 C at 5cm depth for solarized and bare soil, respectively during PSS. The results showed no visible detrimental effect on `Carlos' muscadine (Vitis rotundifolia) from the increased heating of the soil. And the grape plants grown in solarized soils showed increases in growth response e.g. increased yield, revitalization of new softwood vines, vine weight/plant, etc. Uneven ripening of muscadine grapes was reduced on plants grown in PSS over bare soil as indicated by the increases in the percent soluble solids content of grape berries.

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Mario Orozco-Santos, Javier Farias-Larios, J. Gerardo López-Aguirre*, Emilio Sánchez-Arévalo, and Jaime Molina-Ochoa

In Central Pacific region, Mexico, are cultivated around 17,000 ha of cucurbitaceous. This crops are affected by wilt, this disease is caused by Fusarium oxysporum (F.o.) Schlechtend. Some farmers are using resistant varieties to this disease, but resistance is different to each cultivar. Soil fumigation is other way to control this pathogen. Soil solarization is a new alternative for Fusarium oxysporum control. The objective of this research was to evaluate the effect of soil solarization on Fusarium oxysporum for wilt control in muskmelon crop in Colima State. The experiment was carried out under field conditions, using Cantaloupe melon (Cucumis melo L.) Cv. Ovation, in Ixtla-huacán municipality during November-December. Clear plastic was used (thickness 110). Evaluation of solarization periods were 0, 10, 20, and 30 days. Experimental design was full random blocks, with four replications. Evaluated variables were: soil temperature at 5-,10-, and 20-cm soil depth, propagule number of Fusarium oxysporum in soil, wilt incidence and yield. For determine Fusarium oxysporum survival, a strain isolated from infected plants was used. Fungi was introduced in cloth bags, containing 10 gr of sterile sand with 10 mL of a suspension of 19,000 conidia/mL. Later were introduced four cloth bags per treatment at 5-,10-, and 20-cm soil depth. When plants were harvested, was taken the sick plants percentage. Results shown that soil solarization periods had not an effect on the propagule number at the soil depth for the solarization periods. Also soil solarization had not and effect on plant yield. Is necessary to do the same experiment during different season, as June-July or September-October, to have a higher soil temperature and humidity.

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Mark Rieger, Gerard Krewer, and Pamela Lewis

Solarization and chemical alternatives to methyl bromide (MeBr) soil fumigation for strawberry (Fragaria {XtimesX} ananassa) were evaluated in a 3-year study in Savannah, Ga. Solarization using clear or black plastic, metam sodium (Sectagon), dazomet (Basamid), 1,3-dichloropropene and chloropicrin (Telone C-35), MeBr, and untreated control treatments were used. Solarization produced maximal soil temperatures of 55 to 60 °C (131 to 140 °F) at the 2.5 cm (1 inch) depth, and 42 to 48 °C (108 to 118 °F) at the 15 cm (6 inch) depth. Clear and black plastic were generally equally effective in heating the soil. A double layer of clear plastic raised soil temperatures 1 to 2 °C (2 to 4 °F) above those under a single layer of clear at the 2.5 cm depth, although this occurred less frequently at the 15 cm depth. MeBr treatment increased yield by 46% and 128% in the first and second years, respectively, compared to the untreated control, but all treatments were similar in yield in year three. Season average fruit size differed among treatments in only the first year, with MeBr resulting in fruit 13% to 25% larger than other treatments. Yield for the metam sodium treatment in the first year was 34% lower than for MeBr, but comparable to MeBr in the other 2 years. Solarization treatment yields were similar to those of MeBr in the first and third years, but could not be analyzed in the second year due to plot damage. Dazomet treatment yields were similar to those of MeBr, metam sodium, and the untreated control in its single year of testing, but logistics of application and high costs may disfavor this treatment. The 1,3-dichloropropene/chloropicrin treatment performed as well as MeBr in its single year of testing. Three treatments-metam sodium, 1,3-dichloropropene/chloropicrin, and solarization with black plastic-offer viable, lower cost alternatives to MeBr.

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Shann Tanner, Christina Wells, and Gregory Reighard

The effectiveness of soil solarization as an alternative to methyl bromide (MBr) fumigation in replanted peach orchards was investigated at the Musser Fruit Research Farm near Clemson, S.C. A split plot experimental design was used, with soil treatment as the whole-plot factor and rootstock as the sub-plot factor. In Spring 2002, preexisting trees were removed from the study site, and six orchard rows were cultivated and subsoiled. In June, two rows were covered with clear polyethylene sheeting and solarized for the remainder of the summer. In November, two additional rows were treated with MBr (474.3 kg·ha-1), while the two remaining control rows received no soil sterilization treatment. In Jan. 2003, 36 `Redglobe' peach trees budded on Guardian™ or Lovell rootstock were transplanted to the site, and one minirhizotron was installed beneath each tree. Minirhizotron observations were made every 14–21 days from Feb. through Oct. 2003, and stem caliper measurements were taken on four dates during this interval. Trees grew significantly larger in the MBr and solarized rows than in the control rows (P< 0.1; Tukey's hsd), but there were no differences in stem caliper growth between MBr and solarization-treated trees. Reduced aboveground growth in control trees may have been related to greater carbon expenditure belowground: in the absence of soil sterilization, fine root median life spans were reduced by 27–28 days (P< 0.0001; proportional hazards regression) and rates of root production and mortality were significantly higher (P< 0.1; repeated measures ANOVA). Solarization and MBr fumigation appeared to provide similar benefits in reducing root turnover and improving aboveground growth at this site.