Submitted to: Proceedings of Methyl Bromide Alternatives Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: August 31, 2007
Publication Date: October 1, 2007
Citation: Mcsorley, R., Rosskopf, E.N., Burelle, N.K. 2007. Similarities and Differences in Flower and Vegetable Production in Florida. Proceedings of Methyl Bromide Alternatives Conference. 41:1-2. Technical Abstract: Both floriculture and vegetable industries in Florida have been reliant on methyl bromide, but have been progressing toward use of alternatives. Both industries face similar pest and production problems, with the majority of crops grown on sandy soils with low fertility, coupled with erratic rainfall distribution. Since both industries face similar soilborne pest problems, pest management technologies are generally applicable to both vegetables and floriculture. Root-knot nematodes are the dominant nematode pests in Florida vegetable production, and can be damaging to a variety of flower crops, especially snapdragon and celosia. Soilborne plant pathogens can cause problems in a wide range of crops. Summer weeds such as grasses, nutsedges, and larger broadleaf weeds must be controlled prior to planting fall vegetable or flower crops. During the growing season, selective herbicides can be used to manage weeds in some vegetable crops, an option that is not available to flower growers. Winter weeds such as white clover and Carolina geranium that emerge during the flower crop can be especially difficult to manage. Effective methyl bromide alternatives for vegetable crops are generally applicable to floriculture as well. Among chemical alternatives, methyl iodide has shown good efficacy and performance that most closely approximates methyl bromide. Solarization has been the most effective and reliable nonchemical alternative, and has performed similarly to methyl bromide in some tests. Activity against the full range of soil pests is critical for all alternatives; some nonchemical alternatives, such as host plant resistance or biological control, are effective only against one group of pests. While pests and management methods may be similar for vegetable and flower growers, some of the production practices are very different, and directly impact the application of pest management. Both groups typically grow plants on raised beds to reduce impact from temporary flooding, although flower growers may grow on flat surfaces if drainage is not a concern. Florida growers of high value vegetable crops like tomato or pepper nearly always grow these crops on plastic mulch with drip irrigation. In order to maximize production, flower growers plant crops at very high plant densities which makes use of plastic mulch impractical. Overhead irrigation is in flower production because cost of installing drip irrigation with high plant density is prohibitive. These differences between vegetable and flower production impose important limitations on pest management practices in floriculture crops. First, application of materials through drip irrigation is not an option. Second, because the flowers are grown on open ground and not on plastic mulch, it is desirable to protect the entire area, not just treated strips of raised beds. However, most plastics, such as solarization films or metalized films are most commonly available in ca. 6-ft (183 cm) strips, which are most suitable for strip application on raised beds. To treat larger, flat surface areas for solarization or fumigation, wider pieces of plastic are needed. It is also necessary to glue sheets of plastic together for treati and sealing mg larger areas. Third, most vegetable and floriculture growers in Florida face increasing pressure from urbanization. This appears to be more acute for flower growers, for whom some practices may be limited or discouraged by the close proximity of residential property. Flower growers are interested in alternatives like methyl iodide or solarization, but need these technologies to be adapted for their production systems.