Chloropicrin is Back On the Radar for Potato Growers
Chloropicrin – a chemical compound that was first synthesized in 1848 by Scottish chemist John Stenhouse – has seen a resurgence in popularity in the potato industry.
The substance was first used on potato in the 1940s as a wireworm suppressant and then in 1965 as verticillium suppressant. Then farmers stopped using it on the potato for many years, but this has changed in recent times.
According to Chat Hutchinson, director of research at TriEst Ag Group, Inc, chloropicrin used as a plant soil treatment can suppress soilborne pathogenic fungi, as well as some nematodes and insects. In his webcast “Chloropicrin Soil Fumigation in Potato Production Systems”, he explains that with a half-life of hours to days, the chemical is completely digested by soil organism before the crop is planted, making it safe and efficient. Contrary to popular belief, chloropicrin does not sterilize soil and does not deplete the ozone layer, as the compound is destroyed by sunlight. Additionally, chloropicrin has never been found in groundwater, due to its low solubility.
Hutchinson explains that chloropicrin-treated soil has a healthier root system, improved water use, and more efficient fertilizer use. Applying it to soil also results in greater crop yield and health. The scientist also adds that the compound has the ability to suppress many pathogens, including the one that causes common scab and species of Verticillium, Fusarium, and Phytophthora. He concludes that the use of chloropicrin not only increases production efficiency and profit potential for potato farmers, but it can also improve soil health.