Science into practice - treating soil before tree planting

In 2009, the value of field-grown ornamental and amenity trees in England was around £19.8m. Several varieties are susceptible to the soil-borne fungal disease Verticillium wilt, notable examples being some species of Acer, Tilia, Fraxinus and Catalpa.

The causal fungus Verticillium dahliae is widespread in UK soils. Until 2004, around 15ha of land were treated each year with methyl bromide prior to planting trees, primarily to reduce the risk of Verticillium wilt.

From 1 January 2007, methyl bromide use was no longer permitted and without an alternative, the losses incurred to Verticillium wilt are likely to increase, preventing production of certain tree species in the UK on a commercial scale.

HDC project HNS 137 aimed to identify alternatives to methyl bromide for soil disinfestation for field-grown trees. The treatment should be applicable broadacre and give control of V. dahliae to sufficient depth to enable economic production of a crop for at least four years.

The results demonstrated that Verticillium wilt was reduced in Acer by pre-plant soil treatment with Chlorofume or a combined Basamid/Sistan 51 treatment and in Tilia by these treatments and a biological soil disinfestation. A Sudan grass treatment was found to be ineffective.

Dates for your diary

Herbaceous Perennials Technical Discussion Group, London, 22 February. The meeting will showcase relevant HDC crop protection projects and discuss priorities for HDC-funded work.

HDC Protected Edibles Panel Meeting, University of Warwick, Wellesbourne, 24 February.

Horticultural Development Company

For details on all HDC activities, visit

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