Methyl bromide has been a key fumigant for broad-spectrum weed control in polyethylene-mulched bell pepper. However, the ozone-depleting nature of methyl bromide has led to its scheduled phaseout from U.S. agriculture. Thus, an effective alternative to methyl bromide is needed. Field trials were conducted in 2007 and 2009 to evaluate the crop response and weed control efficacy of allyl isothiocyanate (ITC) in polyethylene-mulched bell pepper. The experiment included various combinations of two mulch types (low density polyethylene [LDPE] and virtually impermeable film [VIF] mulch) and six rates of allyl isothiocyanate (0, 15, 75, 150, 750, 1,500 kg ha−1). Additionally, a standard treatment of methyl bromide/chloropicrin (67 ∶ 33%) at 390 kg ha−1 under LDPE mulch was included for comparison. Bell pepper injury was < 3% in all treatments, except 11% injury at 1,500 kg ha−1 allyl isothiocyanate under VIF mulch at 2 wk after transplanting (WATP). VIF mulch did not provide additional weed control and marketable pepper yield over LDPE mulch. Allyl isothiocyanate at 932 (± 127) kg ha−1 controlled yellow nutsedge (90%), Palmer amaranth (97%), and large crabgrass (92%) through 6 WATP and maintained the marketable yield equivalent to methyl bromide treatment. This research demonstrates that allyl ITC under an LDPE mulch can serve as a potential alternative to methyl bromide for weed control in polyethylene-mulched bell pepper.
Nomenclature: Allyl isothiocyanate; methyl bromide; large crabgrass, Digitaria sanguinalis (L.) Scop. DIGSA; Palmer amaranth, Amaranthus palmeri S. Wats. AMAPA; yellow nutsedge, Cyperus esculentus L. CYPES; bell pepper, Capsicum annuum L. ‘Heritage’