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  • Author or Editor: Emma Volk x
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Allyl isothiocyanate (AITC) is a colorless aliphatic oil that naturally occurs in many plants of the cabbage and mustard family (Brassicaceae). It has antimicrobial activity and is used as pesticide for a variety of applications. However, AITC as a soil disinfectant has exhibited inconsistent weed and pathogen control, mainly because of its higher viscosity and low vapor pressure (5 mmHg at 25 °C). Steam, however, effectively controls soil-borne pathogens if soil temperatures of 65 °C or more are reached for a minimum duration of 30 minutes. We hypothesized that steam applications targeting lower temperatures, when combined with soil-injected AITC, will provide sufficient weed and pathogen control. We further hypothesized that the combination of AITC and steam will lead to higher strawberry yields compared with either of the components on their own. Two strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa cv. Camarosa) trials were conducted during two consecutive seasons (2020–21 and 2021–22). The trials were conducted at the Central Crops Research Station in Clayton, NC, USA, and the Horticulture Research Station in Castle Hayne, NC, USA. Eight treatments and a nontreated control were established in a randomized complete block design (four replicates each). The treatments were Pic-Clor 60, AITC, AITC followed by 60 minutes of steam injection, AITC followed by 30 minutes of steam injection, AITC followed by 10 minutes of steam injection, 60 minutes of steam injection, 30 minutes of steam injection, and 10 minutes of steam injection. Soilborne pathogen control efficacy was assessed using wet Pythium sp. plating assays. Weed control was assessed through weed seed/tuber germination assays. Our results showed that combining ATIC with steam did not reduce weed or pathogen levels or improve yield when compared with AITC alone or Pic-Clor 60. Moreover, treatment comprising steam alone did not provide sufficient control. However, AITC alone controlled weeds and pathogens as effectively as Pic-Clor 60 during both years and both locations of the study. These results showed that AITC alone could be a potential alternative soil disinfectant for Eastern North Carolina strawberry production.

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