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Status of Chemical Alternatives to Methyl Bromide for Pre-Plant Fumigation of Soil

December 2002 , Volume 92 , Number  12
Pages  1,337 - 1,343

J. M. Duniway

Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis 95616

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Accepted for publication 23 July 2002.

None of the chemical alternatives currently registered and available has the full spectrum of activity and versatility of methyl bromide as a pre-plant soil fumigant. Chloropicrin and 1,3-dichloropropene (Telone) can provide significant control of many plant pathogens in soil and growth stimulation in annual crops. These compounds, however, provide limited control of weeds or other residual plant materials in soil of concern in nursery production systems, and some perennial replant diseases. Methyl isothiocyanate generators such as metam sodium have broad biocidal activity in soil, but are more difficult to apply effectively. In most soil applications, the available alternatives are likely to be used in combinations, either as mixtures (e.g., 1,3-dichloropropene and chloropicrin) or sequentially (e.g., chloropicrin followed by metam sodium). They may also be supplemented with other more specific pesticides and cultural controls. Among the alternatives currently under active development but not yet available, methyl iodide and propargyl bromide probably have activity that most closely parallels that of methyl bromide in soil. However, all of the chemical alternatives to methyl bromide will be subject to continuing review and more regulation. Furthermore, we do not know the actual prospects for registration of the new fumigants currently under development and there is a risk that registered fumigants will not be available for large-scale use in soil indefinitely.

© 2002 The American Phytopathological Society