Fumigation with methyl bromide (MBr) has been the most commonly used method for producing high quality, pest-free forest tree seedlings in the southeastern United States. Of the 1 billion seedlings produced annually, approximately 95% of seedlings grown for reforestation purposes are loblolly pine. Growth and survival of seedlings after outplanting is strongly linked to high quality, pest-free forest-tree seedlings produced in the nursery. This large scale study compares seven soil fumigants and a non-fumigated treatment using operational fumigation methods and standard operating nursery management practices over two growing seasons at two nurseries in South Carolina. Soilborne fungi, nematode and weed control was dependent upon nursery and soil fumigant tested. When examining overall seedling characteristics, the best MBr alternatives tested were chloropicrin, Pic+ and Chlor 60, all of which resulted in similar seedling densities to that of MBr. Information gathered from this study should be used by nursery managers in the southern U.S. to choose an MBr alternative that would be useful in the production of forest-tree seedlings in their nurseries based on their individual nursery soil conditions and pest pressures.
Keywords: Soil fumigation, chloropicrin, soilborne fungi, nematodes, loblolly pine.
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