Biodegradable Mulch Films for Weed Suppression in the Establishment Year of Matted-row Strawberries

in HortTechnology

Adequate weed control in the establishment year of matted-row strawberries (Fragaria × ananassa) is crucial for the long-term viability of plantings. Suppression of weed growth until the new strawberry plants are established and runners rooted is an effective strategy in new plantings. Three biodegradable mulch films were compared to standard weed control for establishing matted-row strawberries. Two films were test products using a biodegradable polymer, either clear or black, covering brown 40-lb kraft paper (IP40 Clear and IP40 Black, respectively). The third material was Planters paper, a black paper mulch. The films were evaluated for weed suppression, rate of degradation and effects on runner production and fruit yield. Additionally, the ability of runners that were formed to root as the film degraded was also observed. The IP40 Black mulch reduced the number of weeds compared to the standard control but did not degrade quickly enough for runners to root. The Planters paper also had fewer weeds, but it degraded quickly along the edges where it was covered by soil. This allowed the wind to tear it and blow large pieces off the plots. The IP40 Clear degraded in a timely manner and allowed runner rooting, but it was not acceptable as a weed suppression material. The IP40 Black and Planters paper mulches were effective for weed control in the establishment year, but rate of degradation was too slow in the former case and too fast in the latter. Runner production and fruit yield were not affected by any of the mulch materials compared to standard control.

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e-mail caw34@nysaes.cornell.edu.

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