USE OF METHYL BROMIDE AND OTHER CHEMICAL PEST CONTROL
BY STRAWBERRY AND FRESH TOMATO GROWERS
U.S. production of methyl bromide is currently restricted to the level produced in 1991. On January
1, 2001, production and importation of methyl bromide in the United States will be prohibited.
Methyl bromide inventories could be used up within a few years following the ban. Other
industrialized countries will phase out production of methyl bromide, with a total ban by the year
2010 (7). For developing nations, there will be a freeze on production in 2002 based upon an
average of the years 1995-1998. These agreements are being revisited in September 1997 at the
Ninth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty developed to protect
the earth from the detrimental effects of ozone depletion.
About 60 million pounds of methyl bromide are used annually in U.S. agriculture, primarily for soil
fumigation (87%), for commodity and quarantine treatment (8%), and for structural fumigation
(5%) (7). Crops, which use methyl bromide as a soil fumigant, include almonds, apples, apricots,
cherries, citrus, grapes, nectarines, peaches, plums/prunes, walnuts, carrots, cucumbers, eggplants,
fresh tomatoes, melons, peppers, strawberries, sweet potatoes, tobacco, ornamentals, and forest
Strawberries and fresh tomatoes account for about 13-14 million pounds of methyl bromide used
annually. California is the number one strawberry producing state and Florida the number one fresh
tomato producing state. Sales of strawberries averaged $553 million during 1993-95, and sales of
Florida fresh tomatoes averaged $216 million (5). About 90 percent of California's strawberry
acreage and Florida's fresh tomato acreage are fumigated with methyl bromide.
The primary fumigant alternatives, or combination of alternatives, likely to replace methyl bromide
on both strawberries and fresh tomatoes include 1,3-D (Telone), metam sodium, and chloropicrin
(including a herbicide on tomatoes). Ba