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Bielinski M. Santos, James P. Gilreath and Myriam N. Siham

Although methyl bromide (MBr) has been phased out in developed countries, limited amounts will still be available in the United States for the next few years through critical-use exemptions. Therefore, production practices reducing MBr use are desirable from the grower and environmental standpoints. Fumigation efficacy depends on the duration of fumigants in the soil and mulch permeability; thus, field trials were conducted to compare MBr retention of low- and high-density polyethylene (LDPE and HDPE respectively) mulches with seven metallized mulches and virtually impermeable films (VIF) from different manufacturers, and to assess the effect of MBr retention on nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus and C. esculentus) control with these mulches. The compared mulches were 1) white VIF; 2) black VIF; 3) white-on-black VIF; 4) cowound VIF, which has a clear nylon layer that covers the bed and is superimposed with a layer of black HDPE mulch; 5) metallized; 6) metallized heat trap with a black stripe on the bed center; 7) metallized with a black stripe on the bed center; 8) black LDPE mulch; and 9) black HDPE mulch. All treatments received 175 lb/acre of MBr + chloropicrin (Pic; 67:33 v/v). A nonfumigated control plot covered with LDPE mulch, and a treatment covered with HDPE mulch and fumigated with 350 lb/acre of MBr + Pic were also established. Nutsedge emergence through mulches increased rapidly beginning 18 days after treatment (DAT). Nutsedge populations at 28 DAT in the nonfumigated control covered with LDPE mulch had the greatest emergence (88.8 plants/ft2), followed by LDPE and HDPE mulches with 175 lb/acre of MBr + Pic (67.0 plants/ft2), HDPE mulch with 350 lb/acre of MBr + Pic (25.0 plants/ft2), and VIF and metallized mulches with 175 lb/acre of MBr + Pic (<2 plants/ft2). There were no significant differences in fumigant retention between the metallized mulches and VIF. These mulches retained 3.7 and 1.8 times more MBr than HDPE and LDPE mulches fumigated with 175 and 350 lb/acre of MBr + Pic, respectively.

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Bielinski M. Santos, James P. Gilreath, Timothy N. Motis, Marcel von Hulten and Myriam N. Siham

Field trials were conducted to: 1) determine the effect of mulch types and applied concentrations of 1,3-dichloropropene + chloropicrin (1,3-D + Pic) on fumigant retention; and 2) examine the influence of mulch films and 1,3-D + Pic concentrations on purple nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus) control. 1,3-D + Pic concentrations were 0, 600, 1000, and 1400 ppm, and mulch types were white on black high-density polyethylene mulch (HDPE), white on black virtually impermeable film (VIF-WB), silver on white metalized mulch, and green VIF (VIF-G). Regardless of the initial 1,3-D + Pic concentrations and mulch types, fumigant retention exponentially decreased over time. When 1400 ppm of 1,3-D + Pic were injected into the soil, 1,3-D + Pic dissipation reached 200 ppm at 3.2, 2.9, 2.2, and 1.5 days after treatment (DAT) under VIF-G, VIF-WB, metalized, and HDPE mulches, respectively. At 5 weeks after treatment (WAT), HDPE mulch had the highest purple nutsedge densities among all films. The treatments covered with VIF-G had purple nutsedge densities <5 plants/ft2, regardless of the applied fumigant concentration, while VIF-WB and metalized mulch reached this weed density with 696 ppm of the fumigant. In contrast, 1186 ppm of 1,3-D + Pic were needed to reach this weed density with HDPE mulch. Correlation analysis showed that mulch fumigant retention readings at 3 DAT effectively predict purple nutsedge densities at 5 WAT (r ≤ –0.94). These findings proved that 1,3-D + Pic activity on purple nutsedge can be improved with the use of more retentive films, which cause longer fumigant retention, thus improving efficacy. Growers might elect reducing 1,3-D + Pic rates to compensate for the relatively higher cost of fumigant-retentive mulches, without losing herbicidal activity.

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Bielinski M. Santos, James P. Gilreath, Myriam N. Siham and Camille E. Esmel

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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James P. Gilreath, Bielinski M. Santos, Myriam N. Siham, Paul Vaculin and Michael Herrington

Previous research has demonstrated stimulation of purple and yellow nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus and C. esculentus) with chloropicrin when applied at rates ranging from 100 to 150 lbs/acre (112 to 168 kg·ha–1) under low or high density polyethylene film mulch. This stimulatory effect has been exploited in research by developing a program of metam application 5 days after application of chloropicrin, thus placing metam in the soil once the tubers have begun to sprout and are most vulnerable. This project was expanded in 2004–05 to include the commercial emulsifiable concentrate formulation of 65% 1,3-dichloropropene and 35% chloropicrin (1,3-D + Pic) and virtually impermeable film mulch as well as high density polyethylene film. The test site was a commercial tomato farm in west central Florida with a heavy infestation of purple nutsedge. Chloropicrin was applied into raised beds through three gas knives, while 1,3-D + Pic and metam potassium were applied in 1 acre inch of water through 2 drip irrigation tubes spaced 10 inches apart and 5 inches from the bed center. Metam was applied 5 days after application of chloropicrin and 1,3-D + Pic. Treatments were applied under both standard high density polyethylene film (Hilex and Bromostop) VIF. Stimulation of nutsedge sprouting and emergence was about the same with either chloropicrin alone or combined with 1,3-D; however, there was some enhancement when applied under VIF. There was a slight improvement in efficacy of metam potassium when applied alone under VIF, contrary to previous results. Application of metam 5 days after application of chloropicrin or 1,3-D + Pic greatly improved nutsedge control over that observed without the subsequent application of metam and VIF improved results to some degree. Producers of drip irrigated crops in Florida can achieve acceptable to excellent nutsedge control using this sequential application technique combined with VIF; however, the addition of a second drip tube on the bed top increases expense by about $125/acre and is not compatible with crops grown with more than a single row on the bed.

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Bielinski M. Santos, James P. Gilreath, Camille E. Esmel and Myriam N. Siham

Field trials were conducted to determine the effect of yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus) and purple nutsedge (C. rotundus) time of establishment on their distance of influence on bell pepper (Capsicum annuum). A single seedling of each weed species was transplanted 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 weeks after transplanting (WAT) bell pepper. Each weed was separately established in the center of plots within double rows of bell peppers. Crop height and yield were determined from bell pepper plants located at 6, 13.4, 24.7, and 36.5 inches away from each weed. Bell pepper height was unaffected by weed species, time of establishment, or the interaction between these factors. Marketable yield data indicate that yellow nutsedge was more aggressive than purple nutsedge interfering with bell pepper. When yellow nutsedge was established at 1 WAT, bell pepper yield reduction was between 57% and 32% for plants at 6 and 13.4 inches away from the weed respectively, which represents a density of ≈0.14 plant/ft2. One purple nutsedge plant growing since 1 WAT at 6 inches along the row from two bell pepper plants (0.43 plant/ft2) produced a yield reduction of 31%. These results indicate that low nutsedge densities, which are commonly believed to be unimportant, can cause significant bell pepper yield reductions.

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Bielinski M. Santos, James P. Gilreath, Camille Esmel and Myriam N. Siham

Field trials were conducted in Bradenton, Fla., to determine the effect of purple and yellow nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus and C. esculentum) time of emergence on the area of influence of each weed on bell pepper (Capsicum annuum). Each weed-bell pepper complex was studied separately. A single weed was transplanted 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 weeks after bell pepper transplanting (WAT) and bell pepper yield was collected at 0, 30, 60, and 90 cm from each weed. Bell pepper yield data indicated that yellow nutsedge was more aggressive than purple nutsedge interfering with bell pepper. When yellow nutsedge emerged 1 WAT, bell pepper yield losses were between 32 and 57% for plants at 0 and 30 cm away from the weed, respectively, which represents at least a density of approximately 3.5 plants/m2. For purple nutsedge, one weed growing since 1 WAT between two bell pepper plants (0 cm; 10 plants/m2) produced a yield reduction of 31%. These results indicated that low nutsedge densities, which are commonly believed to be unimportant, can cause significant bell pepper yield reductions.