The continued phase-out of methyl bromide (MBr) challenges vegetable growers' abilities to control weeds in plasticulture production. Herbicides, such as EPTC (S-ethyl dipropylthiocarbamate), may be needed as part of a MBr alternative system. An experiment was conducted during the springs of 2008 and 2009 in Ty Ty, GA, to determine tomato, pepper, eggplant, and watermelon tolerance to EPTC applied under mulch. Treatments consisted of a factorial arrangement of four rates of EPTC (0, 2, 3, or 4 kg ai ha−1) and two plastic mulch types (low density polyethylene [LDPE] mulch or a high barrier mulch [HBM]). Each crop was planted 28 d after applying herbicides and laying mulch. EPTC, regardless of rate, applied under LDPE mulch did not impact plant growth, fruit number produced, or fruit weights for any crop. Conversely, pepper, tomato, and eggplant heights were reduced 65 to 72%, 30 to 75%, and 9 to 32%, respectively, by EPTC at 2 to 4 kg ai ha−1 when applied under HBM. Similar trends were observed for crop yield; fruit number and weight were reduced by 71 to 84% for pepper, 36 to 76% for tomato, and 7 to 15% for eggplant when EPTC was applied at 2 to 4 kg ai ha−1 as compared to the no EPTC HBM control. Watermelon stem lengths, fruit number, and fruit weights were not impacted by EPTC applied under HBM mulch. It appears as though HBMs reduce the loss of EPTC through volatilization, thereby increasing the dose present at time of planting. EPTC could be included as part of a MBr alternative system for tomato, pepper, eggplant, and watermelon when applied under LDPE mulch, and may also be applied at labeled rates with the HBM utilized in this experiment for watermelon.
Nomenclature: S-ethyl dipropylthiocarbamate (EPTC); bell pepper, Capsicum annuum L. CPSAN; eggplant, Solanum melongena L. SOLME; tomato Solanum lycopersicum L. LYPES; watermelon, Citrullus lanatus L. CITLA.