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James S. Gerik

Field trials were conducted to test fumigants as alternatives to methyl bromide (MB) for production of hybrid freesia (Freesia × hybrida). One trial compared rates of 1,3-dichloropropene (DP) combined with chloropicrin (CP); the second trial compared iodomethane (IM) together with CP, DP:CP, and furfural with and without metham sodium; and the third trial compared rates and formulations of IM:CP to the standard MB:CP treatments. Most treatments reduced populations of Pythium spp. and controlled weeds compared to the untreated controls. Formulations of IM:CP reduced the incidence of disease caused by Fusarium oxysporum. Treatments of IM:CP performed as well as MB:CP, and treatments of DP:CP performed as well as IM:CP. Presently only the DP, CP and metham sodium formulations are registered for use on ornamental crops. Registration of the IM formulations will improve the options available to cut flower growers for management of plant pathogens and weeds.

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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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Christine M. Rainbolt, Jayesh B. Samtani, Steven A. Fennimore, Celeste A. Gilbert, Krishna V. Subbarao, James S. Gerik, Anil Shrestha and Bradley D. Hanson

Methyl bromide (MB) has been widely used in California cut-flower production for effective control of a broad range of soil pests, including plant pathogens and weeds. However, MB is an ozone-depleting substance, and its availability to growers is limited according to the Montreal Protocol guidelines. Steam has been suggested as a nonchemical option for preplant soil disinfestation. Five trials were conducted in protected greenhouse structure or open-field cut-flower nurseries in Monterey, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura counties to evaluate the effect of steam application, alone or in combination with solarization, on soilborne plant pathogen populations, weed densities, and crop growth. Several steam application methods were used including steam blanket, spike-hose, buried drip irrigation lines, or drain tile, and these varied among trials. Calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) nursery trials initiated in 2007 and 2008 showed that steam alone or with solarization was similar to or more effective than MB:chloropicrin (MBPic), applied via drip lines, in controlling weeds and Verticillium dahliae at 6-inch depth. Trials conducted in Spring and Fall 2009 in an oriental hybrid lily (Lilium sp.) nursery showed that, 112 days after steam treatment (DAT) in the spring, the steam (spike-hose) treatment had fewer Fusarium oxysporum propagules than the MB treatment. Lily plant growth in the steam-treated plots was similar to MB-treated plots and taller than in control plots. In the fall trial, fewer lily plants emerged by 44 DAT in the untreated control than in steam- and MB-treated plots and steam was not as effective as MB in reducing Pythium populations. In the 2010 sunflower (Helianthus annuus) and bupleurum (Bupleurum griffithii) trial, all steam treatments reduced Pythium and Phytophthora cactorum survival compared with the untreated control plots, whereas weed densities were reduced only in the spike-hose steam-treated plots. These trial studies showed that steam appeared as effective as MB in suppressing pathogens and weeds and improving crop growth in cut-flower nurseries. However, additional information on fuel consumption, treatment time efficiency, and long-term effects of steam treatment on soil health are needed before steam can be recommended as a viable alternative to MB in California cut-flower nurseries.