Matted-row Strawberry Production using Landscape Fabrics and Organic Mulch for Weed Control

in HortScience

Three landscape fabrics, Magic Mat®, a heavy black plastic woven fabric with a fuzzy underside; Weed Mat®, a thin black plastic sheet with small holes; and Typar®, a dark gray spun bonded material, with and without a cover of organic oak bark mulch, were evaluated for weed control and ability of strawberry plant roots to establish through the fabrics over a 4-year period. Landscape fabrics reduced weed numbers for the first 3 years in comparison with the bare ground treatment. With few exceptions. the organic mulch did not improve the weed control capability of landscape fabrics. Fruit yield for the Weed Mat and Magic Mat treatments did not differ from the bare ground treatment, but was lower for the Typar treatment when averaged over organic mulch treatments. Fruit yield was higher where the organic mulch was used when averaged over all landscape fabric treatments. Fruit size was slightly larger for the bare ground and smallest for the Typar treatments during the first harvest season, but there was no difference in fruit size by the third year of harvest. Fruit size for the organic mulched plots was slightly larger than that for the unmulched plots the second year of harvest, but there was no difference for the first or third years. The number of strawberry runner plants that rooted and plant row vigor were greater for the Weed Mat, Magic Mat and plots without the landscape fabric than for the Typar plots, particularly in the second and third season. Rooting of runner plants and plant row vigor was better with organic mulch. Landscape fabric tended to reduce extent of rooting, especially in the first season, but it was improved by the application of organic mulch.

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