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Roni Cohen*, Yosef Burger, and Menahem Edelstein

The use of grafted vegetables as one of the alternatives to soil disinfestation with methyl bromide is increasing in Israel. Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) and melon (Cucumis melo) plants are grafted mainly onto Cucurbita rootstocks for lessening losses due to soil-borne pathogens. The contribution of the rootstock to the grafted plant's resistance depends on the nature of the disease. In general, damage caused by non-specific root-rot pathogens such as Rhizoctonia solani, Macrophomina phaseolina, Monosporascus cannonballus, and Pythium spp. are effectively reduced by using Cucurbita rootstocks. However, these rootstocks provide only partial protection from vascular diseases such as fusarium wilt, in which case better protection can be achieved by grafting susceptible melons onto monogenic fusarium-resistant melon rootstocks. The performance of the grafted plants depends not only on the rootstock but also on the scion response to pathogens and on the effect of the environment on disease development. The response of grafted and non-grafted melons of different cultivars to sudden wilt disease caused by the fungus Monosporascus cannonballus was evaluated in field trials conducted in the fall and spring growing seasons. Significant differences in disease incidence were found among cultivars, between grafted and non-grafted plants, and between seasons. Grafting reduced plant mortality in the spring and fall experiments but prevention of yield losses was more effective in the spring. More emphasis should be given to finding suitable rootstocks and adjusting agrotechniques for successful commercial cultivation of grafted melons in the fall.

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Nancy Roe, Johnnie R. Schmidt, and Tobin Fojtik

Some possible alternatives to soil fumigation with methyl bromide include soil solarization and the use of composts to modify soil microorganism populations. We tested combinations of solarization and compost on a broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis L.) crop on an organic farm. Treatments were: solarization with compost (SC); solarization without compost (SW); compost only (NC); and an untreated control (NW). Dairy manure compost was applied manually to compost plots at 22 Mg/ha, raised beds were constructed, and solarization plots were covered with clear polyethylene from 13 July to 26 Aug. Black polyethylene mulch was applied to all plots, covering the clear polyethylene. Broccoli, cv. Packman, transplants were planted into the beds and fertilized with fish emulsion fertilizer three times for a total of ≈22 kg/ha N. Broccoli heads were harvested on 1, 5, and 9 Dec., trimmed to 15 cm, weighed and counted. Marketable yields were 8704, 7117, 8169, and 8374 (kg/ha) and mean head weights were 353, 228, 286, 313 (g) for SC, SW, NC, and NW, respectively. Under these conditions, head weights were highest with compost and solarization, and marketable yields were similar.

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James S. Gerik, Ian D. Greene, Peter Beckman, and Clyde L. Elmore

Two field trials were conducted from 2002 until 2004 to evaluate several chemicals as alternatives to methyl bromide for the production of calla lily (Zantedeschia sp.) rhizomes. Various rates and chemical combinations were tested. The chemicals were applied through a drip irrigation system. The chemicals included iodomethane, chloropicrin, 1,3-dichloropropene, metham, sodium furfural, and sodium azide. None of the treatments reduced the viability of seed of mallow (Malva parviflora) previously buried in the plots. Propagules of nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus) and seed of mustard (Brassica nigra) were controlled by iodomethane + chloropicrin, 1,3-dichloropropene + chloropicrin, chloropicrin alone, 1,3-dichloropropene alone, and furfural + metham sodium. Propagules of calla were controlled by all of the treatments except sodium azide and furfural + metham sodium. In the first trial, all treatments reduced the populations of soilborne plant pathogens, including Pythium spp., Phytophthora spp., and Fusarium oxysporum, except for sodium, which did not reduce the population of Phytophthora spp. In the second trial, all treatments controlled Pythium spp. but only a high rate of iodomethane + chloropicrin reduced the population of F. oxysporum. For all treatments, the incidence of disease caused by soilborne pathogens was reduced compared to the nontreated control. The number and value of harvested rhizomes were greater among all of the treatments, except for sodium azide, compared to the control. The harvested value of the crop for the best treatments increased significantly compared to the control. A successful crop of calla rhizomes can be produced by combinations of iodomethane, chloropicrin, 1,3-dichloropropene, and metham sodium.

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Chinthaka Karunaratne, Graham A. Moore, Rodney B. Jones, and Robert F. Ryan

Phosphine (PH3) is a potential alternative fumigant to methyl bromide for insect disinfestation of cut flowers. King protea (Protea cynaroides L.), tulip (Tulipa gesneriana `Apeldoorn'), kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos manglesii Hook.), and geraldton wax (Chamelaucium uncinatum `Purple Pride') were fumigated with PH3 at varying concentrations (100 to 8000 μL·L-1) for 2, 4, or 6 hours. Vase life was evaluated at 20 °C, 65% relative humidity, and constant illumination with a photosynthetically active radiation of 15 μmol·m-2·S-1. No significant change in vase life was observed for kangaroo paws after any of the PH3 fumigations. A 6-hour fumigation at 8000 μL·L-1 significantly reduced vase life in king protea, tulip, and geraldton wax flower. Geraldton wax flower and tulip were relatively sensitive to PH3, as they were damaged by 4000 μL·L-1 for 6 hours and 8000 μL·L-1 for 4 hours, respectively. Phosphine has potential as an insect disinfestation fumigant for king protea, tulip, and kangaroo paw at 4000 (μL·L-1 for 6 hours without affecting vase life or causing damage.

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J.D. Hansen, M.L. Heidt, M.A. Watkins, S.R. Drake, J. Tang, and S. Wang

Quarantine regulations require domestic sweet cherries (Prunus avium) exported to Japan to be treated to control codling moth [Cydia pomonella (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae)]. The current procedure, methyl bromide fumigation, may be discontinued because of health, safety, and environmental concerns. To examine a potential alternative method, `Bing' sweet cherries were each infested with a codling moth larva, submerged in a 38 °C water bath for 6 minutes pretreatment, then exposed to various temperatures generated by radio frequency and held at that temperature for different times: 50 °C for 6 minutes, 51.6 °C for 4 minutes, 53.3 °C for 0.5 minutes, and 54.4 °C for 0.5 minutes. Insect mortality was evaluated 24 hours after treatment and fruit quality was evaluated after treatment and after 7 and 14 days of storage at 1 °C. No larvae survived at the 50 and 51.6 °C treatments. Fruit color of non-infested cherries was darkened as temperature increased. Stem color was severely impacted after 7 days of storage, even in a warm water bath of 38 °C for 6 minutes, as was fruit firmness at the same treatment. Fruit quality loss increased after 14 days of storage, compared to after 7 days of storage. The amount of pitting and bruising of cherries increased with temperature and again this increase was more evident after 14 days of storage.

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Warren Roberts, Wayne Fish, Benny Bruton, Tom Popham, and Merritt Taylor

Grafted cucurbits are commonly grown in various Asian and European countries, but only rarely in North America. Disease control in fields where crop rotation cannot be practiced is a common justification for grafting cucurbits. In the present study, grafting is being examined as a methyl bromide alternative, which may allow cucurbits to be grown in fields where heavy disease pressure would make production of nongrafted cultivars impractical. A study with watermelons (Citrullus lanatus) grafted onto rootstocks of squash and gourd was conducted at Lane, Oklahoma in 2004. Treatments consisted of watermelon cultivars SF 800, SS 5244, SS 7167, SS 7177, and SS 7187 from Abbot & Cobb Seed Co., grown on their own roots, or grafted onto rootstocks of RS1330, RS1332, RS1420, or RS 1421. Controls consisted of nongrafted cultivars Sangria, Royal Sweet, Jubilee, and Jamboree. Two fields were planted, with three replications per field. Plants were grown on 1 m centers, with rows 3 m apart. Yields of grafted plants were generally equal to or greater than the nongrafted plants. Sugar content, measured as soluble solids, was affected minimally, if any, by grafting. Lycopene content of fruit from grafted plants was equal to, or marginally better than, fruit from nongrafted plants. Fruit firmness, as measured by a penetrometer, was significantly greater in the grafted fruit than in the nongrafted fruit. The firmest fruit occurred with SS 7167 scions, grafted onto RS 1420 rootstock, which had a value of about 2.0 × 105 Pascals. The nongrafted plants had values of about 1.0 × 105 Pascals, or less. Matching of scions with appropriate rootstocks was important, as interactions did occur. Certain combinations were significantly superior to other combinations. We estimate that the cost to purchase a grafted seedling plant from a seedling supplier would be $0.75 to $1.00, which would include the cost of the seed and the grafting operation. This cost would compare favorably with the cost of applying methyl bromide to the soil and then planting nongrafted seeds or transplants. Higher plant survival due to disease resistance along with planting fewer plants per hectare is anticipated with grafted plants. The high values in fruit firmness in grafted fruit should be of particular interest to the fresh-cut industry.

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Craig S. Charron and Carl E. Sams

The U.S. Clean Air Act bans the use of methyl bromide after 2005. Consequently, the development of alternative methods for control of soilborne pathogens is imperative. One alternative is to exploit the pesticidal properties of Brassica L. species. Macerated leaves (10 g) from `Premium Crop' broccoli [B. oleracea L. (Botrytis Group)], `Charmant' cabbage [B. oleracea L. (Capitata Group)], `Michihili Jade Pagoda' Chinese cabbage [B. rapa L. (Pekinensis Group)], `Blue Scotch Curled' kale [B. oleracea L. (Acephala Group)], Indian mustard [B. juncea (L.) Czerniak, unknown cultivar] or `Florida Broadleaf' mustard [B. juncea (L.) Czerniak] were placed in 500-mL glass jars. Petri dishes with either Pythium ultimum Trow or Rhizoctonia solani Kühn plugs on potato-dextrose agar were placed over the jar mouths. Radial growth of both fungi was suppressed most by Indian mustard. Volatiles were collected by solid-phase microextraction (SPME) and analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Allyl isothiocyanate (AITC) comprised >90% of the volatiles measured from `Florida Broadleaf' mustard and Indian mustard whereas (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate was the predominant compound emitted by the other species. Isothiocyanates were not detected by SPME from `Premium Crop' broccoli and `Blue Scotch Curled' kale although glucosinolates were found in freeze-dried leaves of all species. When exposed to AITC standard, P. ultimum growth was partially suppressed by 1.1 μmol·L-1 (μmol AITC/headspace volume) and completely suppressed by 2.2 μmol·L-1 R. solani was partially suppressed by 1.1, 2.2, and 3.3 μmol·L-1 AITC. Use of Brassica species for control of fungal pathogens is promising; the presence of AITC in both lines of B. juncea suppressed P. ultimum and R. solani but some Brassicas were inhibitory even when isothiocyanates were not detected.

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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.

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Christina L. Pierson, Carl E. Sams, Dennis E. Deyton, and Craig S. Charron

Biofumigation is an alternative to traditional methods of soil sterilization such as methyl bromide. Biofumigation utilizes volatile, pesticidal compounds in soil incorporated plant material from various Brassica species. Three experiments were conducted to study the degradation of allyl isothiocyanate (AITC) generated from the breakdown of glucosinolates present in Oriental mustard (Brassica juncea L. Czerniak). Mustard seed meal was incorporated into a sandy clay loam soil in all experiments. In the first experiment, samples were hydrated and then held in an incubator at 20 ± 0.2 °C. Samples were taken periodically for 7 days or until AITC was not detectable. For the second experiment, hydrated samples were removed from the incubator after 4 hours and 5 mL of ethyl acetate was added. The samples were then placed in a refrigerator at 4 ± 0.2 °C and samples were taken periodically over 77 days. For the third experiment, samples were taken from a strawberry plot experiment grown in a randomized complete block design. Samples were taken and 5 mL of ethyl acetate was added. Then samples were placed into a cooler until returning to the laboratory. The incubator experiment was repeated and showed that the highest concentration of AITC occurred between 2 and 8 hours after hydration. The storage experiment showed a stable relationship between time and AITC degradation. AITC was still present after 77 days. The strawberry plot experiment showed rapid AITC degradation similar to the incubator experiment. Future research will be done to confirm the effects of temperature and glucosinolate content on the amount of allyl isothiocyanate present.

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Mario Orozco-Santos, Javier Farías-Larios, Jaime Molina-Ochoa, and José Gerardo López-Aguirre

Melon wilt (MW) is one of the main diseases affecting the cucurbitaceous crops in the Pacific Central region of Mexico. The use of resistant varieties is the most effective strategy to reduce the damage caused by MW; however, variety performance depends on the fungal race occurring in the field. The use of fungicides, such as benzimidazols and methyl bromide, is a common practice, but there are contamination concerns, and a search is on for alternatives to diminish the negative effects on the agro-ecosystem. The aim was to determine the effect of the application of soil amendments and mulching on the incidence of MW, and on melon yield. Soil amendments incorporated were: rice straw (3 t·ha-1); compost 1, prepared with chicken and bovine manure, and banana and orange wastes (5.7 t·ha-1); compost 2, prepared with bovine and horse manure, coconut wastes and grasses (8 t·ha-1), vermicompost (3 t·ha-1), and a control. All treatments were established using transparent mulching during 21 days. The number of MW propagules in amended soils were similar at 5, 10, and 20 cm deep, but the percentage of diseased plants was higher (4.5%) in the control, which could be caused by the incidence of other fungi propagules, perhaps antagonistic, that contributed in diminishing the MW when compared with the control. The fruit weights and fruit sizes were not different between treatments on small (21–30 sizes), medium (15–18 sizes), and large (9–12 sizes), but total fruit numbers were 1.15-, 1.07-, 0.99-, and 1.09-fold higher when compared with the control. The application of soil amendments affected the antagonistic fungal populations even when it did not affect the cantaloupe yield. We suggest that soil amendments will improve soil fertility and increase melon yields, and studies are currently running.