Performance characteristics for 12 strawberry genotypes (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch.) from the Univ. of California, Davis, strawberry improvement program were evaluated in annual hill culture, with and without preplant soil fumigation using a mixture of 67 methyl bromide:33 chloropicrin (trichloronitromethane) (wt/wt, 392 kg·ha-1). Plants were established at two locations; one trial followed several cycles of strawberry plantation, whereas the other had not been cropped with strawberries for 20 years. Plant mortality was <3% and did not differ between soil treatments; thus, the main effects of fumigation treatment in these experiments were due to sublethal effects of soil organisms. Plants grown in nonfumigated soil produced 51% and 57% of the fruit yield of plants grown in fumigated soil for soils with and without a recent history of strawberry cultivation, respectively. Nonfumigated treatments also had reduced fruit weight and uniformly lower vegetative vigor during the early phases of plantation establishment. Significant genotype x fumigation interactions were not detected for any of the growth or performance traits at either location. Further, the proportion of variance attributable to interactions was at most 25% of that due to variation among genotypes, even for this highly selected population. Genotypic correlations for traits evaluated in different fumigation treatments ranged from 0.80 to 1.00; thus, selection in either soil environment is expected to affect largely the same sets of genes. These results demonstrate that strawberry productivity is substantially increased by fumigation, even in the absence of lethal pathogens or a discernible replant problem. More importantly, there appears to be little opportunity for developing cultivars specifically adapted to sublethal effects of nonfumigated soils.
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