Location: Subtropical Plant Pathology Research
2013 Annual Report
2. To develop, adopt or use training materials to conduct extension and training programs based on outcomes of the Area-Wide programs and in accordance with the new fumigation regulations emerging.
3. To conduct economic analysis on assimilated data emerging from Area-Wide field demonstration trials and assess the economic impacts of new fumigation regulations.
Growers in NC and surrounding States face critical issues to transition away from methyl bromide as a soil fumigant in strawberry and vegetable production systems and to comply with new EPA fumigation regulations. Our focus has been primarily on tomato and strawberry production systems and growers in the southeast. Tomato production is limited by a number of serious soilborne pathogens as well as weeds. Major plant disease issues in the region include Verticillium wilt (race 2), Fusarium wilt (especially race 3 problems), southern blight, root knot nematodes and bacterial wilt. Weeds include summer annuals as well as nutsedge. We have done considerable work across the region addressing issues associated with these weeds and diseases. Management programs that we have evaluated include the work on fumigant alternatives, evaluating new types of mulches (VIF, TIF, novel mulches), use of host genetics, grafting, and use of drip applied products to manage specific pathogens, such as nematodes and fungi, and weeds. In the case of strawberries, black root rot and an assortment of weeds drive fumigation or soil treatment needs. Black root rot of strawberry can seriously reduce yields in strawberry production. We have demonstrated this disease is caused by a complex of fungi, including Pythium, Rhizoctonia, Fusarium spp. and Phytophthora, and is aggravated by stressful environmental conditions that predispose plants to infection and disease development. With the phase out of methyl bromide (MB) from the market, an increase in root rot diseases and weed pressure is likely to occur since the wide majority of annual strawberry production systems rely on MB to control soil-borne pathogens and weeds. In both cropping systems, our goal is to evaluate all available and emerging tools that will advance integrated management of soilborne pathogens and weeds and communicate that to the industry. We highlight specific examples of the work here.
During the course of this work, EPA introduced new regulations commencing December of 2011. Most of our growers are family farms and most growers fumigate their own land or have local custom fumigant applicators perform the work. It was clear the new regulations would have a large impact on our clientele so we joined forces with partners to enable smooth transition to the new Risk Mitigation Measures and to provide educational information to our growers. This work is also highlighted in this report.
Finally, we have conducted multiple and large scale farms experiments in several states with strawberries, (some) peppers, tomatoes, and other vegetable crops. We also developed tomato and strawberry enterprise budgets to enable growers to make decisions about alternative management of soilborne diseases and weeds. This report highlights completed and ongoing work in thee three areas.