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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fort Pierce, Florida » U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory » Citrus and Other Subtropical Products Research » Research » Research Project #426283

Research Project: Alternatives to Methyl Bromide Soil Fumigation for Vegetable and Floriculture Production

Location: Citrus and Other Subtropical Products Research

Project Number: 6034-22000-041-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Jan 24, 2014
End Date: May 24, 2017

1. Develop new management strategies for control of pests and pathogens currently or previously controlled by soil fumigants in vegetable and ornamental cropping systems. 1.A. Define effective combinations of inputs for anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) including alternative nitrogen sources, to improve pathogen, weed, and nematode control, while reducing inputs. 1.B. Evaluate treatments for control of root-knot nematodes in caladium. 2. Integrate cultural, biological, and chemical control tactics into technically feasible pest management programs for soilborne pests and pathogens. 2.A. Establish effective combinations of organic acids and chemical and/or biologically-based herbicides for use in vegetable and cut flower applications for weed and nematode control. 2.B. Develop application techniques for Pasteuria penetrans, a new root-knot nematode biological control agent. 3. Identify impacts of pest management tactics on biological and functional diversity of soil microflora, nematode, and weed populations, their competitive interactions, and effects on crop health. 3.A. Investigate the effects of weed control tactics on soilborne pathogen and nematode populations. 3.B. Evaluate the effects of application techniques and rates of experimental materials and management tactics on deleterious and beneficial soil microorganisms. 4. Develop and evaluate grafting technologies (including determination of the soil pest complexes for which grafting is most suitable and development of tools to identify and avoid potential graft incompatibility issues) as management strategies for control of pests and pathogens currently or previously controlled by soil fumigants in vegetable cropping systems.4.A. Identify rootstocks with resistance or tolerance to important species of root-knot-nematode (Meloidogyne). 4.B. Determine rootstock and scion pathogen resistance characteristics that result in successful grafted plant production.

A rational and sustainable approach to finding viable alternatives to methyl bromide is to utilize integrated pest management (IPM) programs where combinations of tactics are used to maintain economic damage from key pests below a tolerable threshold. Another approach is to redesign production systems minimizing the potential for outbreaks of soilborne pests. Availability of biologically-based pest to be implemented. Growers must have the option of choosing tactics that fit the needs and constraints of their individual programs. Deployment of multiple or companion tactics is essential to alleviate selection pressure and manage potential increases in resistant pest populations. Synergistic effects from combinations of pest management tactics need to be determined. Specific research methodology will include combinations of cultural practices, biotechnology, biological, and conventional control methods. Identify rootstock and scion germplasm material which have traits that resist diseases commonly found in the Southeastern U.S. currently controlled by methyl bromide. Screen available rootstock material for compatibility using current and new techniques. Select and evaluate rootstock and scion combinations for initial disease resistance and adaptation to current and new cultural technique. Determine the influence of rootstock/scion combinations on the horticultural characteristics of fruit including fruit appearance pre and post harvest quality, flavor, time to maturity, and yield. Develop techniques to evaluate the growth and development of the plant combinations under biotic and abiotic stress and evaluate grafted plant performance under varying cultural conditions.