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Mark S. Johnson and Steven A. Fennimore

The phase out of methyl bromide has forced strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duchesne) growers to consider the use of cultural methods such as colored mulches to enhance weed control. Black plastic mulch controls most weeds; however, black mulch often does not warm the soil as well as clear mulch. Soil warming with clear mulch is desirable for early season markets, but clear mulch does not control weeds. Neither black nor clear mulches combine the ideal weed control and soil warming characteristics required. Seven colored mulches, as well as clear, black and no mulch were evaluated in California organic and conventional strawberries to identify mulch factors associated with weed control and soil warming. Laboratory and greenhouse experiments were also conducted to isolate the effects of light transmittance through mulch on weed germination and growth. The effect of mulch color on transmittance of photosynthetically active light (400 to 700 nm) through mulches was the key weed control factor, and was more important than the effect of mulch color effect on weed germination. Satisfactory weed control was provided by all mulches except clear, blue and red-brown laminated. Clear and black mulches provided the greatest soil warming in sunny and cloudy climatic conditions, respectively, although plants in clear mulched conventional production system plots produced the highest yield of marketable berries. Green and brown plastic mulches provided the best combinations of soil warming and weed control benefits at all trial locations.

Full access

Grant R. Manning and Steven A. Fennimore

Methyl bromide has been the foundation of chemical weed control in strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) in California for over 40 years. The impending phaseout of methyl bromide may leave strawberry producers dependent on less efficacious alternative fumigants for weed control. The use of herbicides to supplement fumigants is a potential weed control strategy for strawberry. A 2-year field study was conducted in California to evaluate 10 herbicides as possible supplements for methyl bromide alternative fumigants. Herbicides were applied immediately after transplanting (immediate posttransplant), and 3 weeks after transplanting (delayed posttransplant). Napropamide applied immediate posttransplant was included as a commercial standard. Immediate posttransplant treatments that were safe in strawberry include carfentrazone at 0.075 and 0.15 lb/acre (0.084 and 0.168 kg·ha-1), flumioxazin at 0.063 lb/acre (0.071 kg·ha-1) and sulfentrazone at 0.175 and 0.25 lb/acre (0.196 and 0.28 kg·ha-1). Triflusulfuron at 0.016 lb/acre (0.017 kg·ha-1) was the only delayed posttransplant treatment with acceptable selectivity. Among the selective herbicides applied immediate posttransplant, flumioxazin and napropamide provided the most consistent control of bur clover (Medicago polymorpha) and shepherd's purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris). Triflusulfuron applied delayed posttransplant did not significantly reduce bur clover densities, but did reduce shepherd's purse densities.

Open access

Dong Sub Kim, Steven Kim, and Steven A. Fennimore

Soil disinfestation with steam has potential to partially replace fumigants such as methyl bromide, chloropicrin, and 1,3-dichloropropene because it is effective, safer to apply, and has less negative impact on the environment. Here, we compared the efficacy of steam and steam + mustard seed meal (MSM) to chloropicrin on soil disinfection, plant growth, and fruit yield in a strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) fruiting field. The MSM was applied at 3368 kg·ha−1 before the steam application. Steam was injected into a 3-m-wide reverse tiller that was set to till 30 to 40 cm deep. Soil temperatures at depths of 10, 20, 25, and 35 cm were monitored. Steam and steam + MSM treatments reduced the viability of purslane seeds and nutsedge tubers, microsclerotia density of Verticillium dahliae, propagule density of Pythium ultimum, cumulative weed densities, and biomass compared with the nontreated control. Moreover, the steam application was as efficacious as chloropicrin on these pests. The growth and fruit yield of strawberries grown on soils previously treated with the steam and steam + MSM treatments were similar to those in the chloropicrin treatment and were higher than those in the nontreated control. Our study indicated that steam, steam + MSM, and chloropicrin are equally effective at suppressing weeds and soilborne pathogens. These results suggest that the steam and steam + MSM treatment can be a practical alternative for soil disinfestation in conventional and organic strawberry fields.

Free access

Jayesh B. Samtani, J. Ben Weber, and Steven A. Fennimore

Herbicides can be an excellent supplemental treatment in cases where soil fumigant treatments alone fail to control weeds during the growing season or in situations where fumigants cannot be used as a result of regulatory restrictions. Previous studies have shown that oxyfluorfen and flumioxazin can provide satisfactory weed control in bedded strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch.) production. However, we need to know if tolerance to herbicides is uniform across strawberry cultivars under California conditions. The objective of this study was to determine if tolerance to oxyfluorfen and flumioxazin herbicides varied among strawberry cultivars. Trials were conducted in the 2007–2008 and 2009–2010 growing seasons at Salinas, CA. Treatments included an untreated control; pre-plant applications of flumioxazin at 0.07, 0.11, and 0.21 kg·ha−1 a.i.; and oxyfluorfen at 0.14 and 0.28 kg·ha−1 a.i. The entire trial was fumigated with an emulsified formulation of 60% 1,3-dichloropropene + 32% chloropicrin applied at 281 L·ha−1 by drip injection to all plots. Eight strawberry cultivars were included in the trial in the 2007–2008 growing season, and nine cultivars were included in the 2009–2010 growing season. In both growing seasons, slight to no crop phytotoxicity was observed. In the 2007–2008 growing season, several strawberry cultivars including ‘Albion’, ‘Festival’, ‘211G51’, ‘Palomar’, ‘Plant Sciences 5298’, and ‘Ventana’ had smaller crop plant canopy diameter as compared with the control when treated with 0.21 kg·ha−1 a.i. of flumioxazin. Compared with the control, flumioxazin at 0.21 kg·ha−1 a.i. reduced crop diameter for ‘Plant Sciences 4634’, ‘Plant Sciences 5298’, ‘San Andreas’, and ‘Ventana’ in the 2009–2010 growing season. In the 2007–2008 strawberry-growing season, none of the herbicide treatments reduced fruit yield compared with the control. In the 2009–2010 growing season, in seven of the nine cultivars, there were no significant differences in yield among treatments. For ‘Palomar’ strawberry, yields in plots treated with flumioxazin at 0.11 and 0.21 kg·ha−1 a.i. were significantly lower than the untreated control. With the exception of flumioxazin at 0.21 kg·ha−1 a.i., these herbicides are safe to use and can be incorporated in strawberry production practices for the cultivars tested to achieve satisfactory weed control over the growing season.

Free access

Milton J. Haar, Steven A. Fennimore, and Cheryl L. Lambert

Field studies were conducted to determine the potential economic impact of the loss of pronamide herbicide to artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.) growers, and to evaluate pendimethalin as an alternative herbicide during establishment of artichoke. Two rates of pronamide and one rate of pendimethalin were applied to perennial and annual artichokes. With the exception of wild oat (Avena fatua L.), pendimethalin controlled weeds as well as or better than pronamide. Financial analysis of treatment effects was based on weed management expenses and value of yield. The financial effect of using pronamide in perennial artichoke ranged from a loss of $247 to a gain of $326 per ha, whereas its use in annual artichoke increased revenue $542 to $5499 per ha. The effects on revenue of using pendimethalin varied with weed species composition and density. For three sites, revenue increased from $267 to $5056 per ha, while a loss of $1034 per ha occurred at a site with a heavy infestation of wild oat. We conclude that pendimethalin has potential as a pronamide replacement, or as a complement to pronamide. Chemical names used: 3,5-dichloro (N-1,1-dimethyl-2-propynyl)benzamide (pronamide); N-(1-ethylpropyl)-3,4-dimethyl-2,6-dinitrobenzenamine (pendimethalin).

Open access

Dong Sub Kim, Mark Hoffmann, Steven Kim, Bertha A. Scholler, and Steven A. Fennimore

Steam has long been used to disinfest greenhouse soils. However, there is increasing interest in expanding the use of steam for in-field soil disinfestation as an alternative to chemical fumigants. Previous studies demonstrated that allyl-isothiocyanate (AITC) reduced viability of weed seeds and plant pathogen propagules, but AITC has a low vapor pressure and is relatively immobile in soil. Heat has been used in the past to enhance the mobility of soil fumigants such as methyl bromide (i.e., “hot gassing”). The effect of steam heat on the mobility of AITC is unknown. The objective of this study was to investigate the potential synergistic effect of steam plus ATIC against weed seeds and a plant pathogen. AITC alone did not reduce the viability of the four weed species and the number of Verticillium dahliae microsclerotia. The steam + AITC treatment reduced the viability of V. dahliae at 12.5 and 18 cm distances by 82% and 88%, respectively, and knotweed and nettle seeds at 70 cm from injection point by 75% and 86%, respectively, from the center of microplots compared with steam alone. The results suggest that AITC and steam have a complementary effect on soilborne pests because steam increases the mobility of AITC.

Open access

Dong Sub Kim, Steven B. Kim, Mike Stanghellini, Melody Meyer-Jertberg, and Steven A. Fennimore

Soil disinfestation with steam has been evaluated in strawberry fruiting fields as a nonchemical method of soil disinfestation; however, little is known about the use of steam for field production of strawberry daughter plants. The objective of this study was to compare daughter plant production in soils previously treated with steam compared to those treated with standard methyl bromide (MB) and chloropicrin (Pic) treatments. A prototype field steam applicator and a self-propelled diesel-fueled steam generator and applicator were tested at two high-elevation nurseries near Macdoel, CA, in Sept. 2018 and Aug. 2020, respectively. The steam application heated the soil above 60 °C for ≈60 minutes to a depth of 25 cm at both nurseries. The pest control efficacy of the steam applications against weeds, Verticillium spp., Tylenchulus semipenetrans, and Pythium ultimum were similar to that of MB:Pic. The stolons and daughter plants densities in fields with steam treatment were similar to those in fields with MB:Pic treatment. Therefore, we suggest that soil disinfestation with steam may be a viable method of producing healthy strawberry plants. However, more research is needed to verify plant sanitation and quality.

Free access

Yan Xu, Rachael E. Goodhue, James A. Chalfant, Thomas Miller, and Steven A. Fennimore

One challenge of conducting research regarding agricultural production systems is that field trials are time consuming and expensive, limiting their scale and scope. Thus, policymakers and producers benefit from researchers extracting as much information as possible from each trial. We used the Monte Carlo techniques and the sensitivity analyses to enhance our analysis of the competitiveness of steam as an alternative to fumigation for preplant soil disinfestation in California strawberry production. Chloropicrin + 1,3-dichloropropene 59.6:39 (CP + 1,3-D) resulted in higher mean net returns than did steam. However, the Monte Carlo analysis showed that in one field trial there was a high probability that steam would be more profitable, whereas in the other it was quite unlikely. We also assessed the change in economic performance of steam when it was applied combined with soil amendments of mustard seed meal (MSM). Switching from steam to steam + MSM would have reduced mean net returns. The Monte Carlo results showed that steam + MSM performed at least as well as steam alone around half the time. We evaluated factors that were likely to affect the net returns, defined as total returns minus treatment, weeding, and harvest labor costs, of using steam in the near future. Reductions in application time increased net returns. A decrease in the price of propane increased net returns.

Free access

Jayesh B. Samtani, Husein A. Ajwa, Rachael E. Goodhue, Oleg Daugovish, Zahanghir Kabir, and Steven A. Fennimore

Fumigants are used to control soilborne pests before planting high-value crops such as strawberry. The use of specialized tarps during fumigation can reduce fumigant emissions and mitigate the need for large buffer zone requirements mandated by regulators. Increased fumigant retention by use of barrier films during fumigant application may increase fumigant retention and allow use of lower fumigant rates to control soil pests than would be needed with permeable film. The objective of this study was to determine the minimum effective rates of the alternative fumigants, 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D) + chloropicrin (Pic), and Pic required under virtually impermeable film (VIF) and a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) tarp to provide weed control equivalent to methyl bromide:chloropicrin (67/33% v/v MBPic) standard soil fumigation at 392 kg·ha−1 under HDPE. A second objective was to determine fumigant rates under VIF and HDPE tarps needed to provide weed control and the economic costs of using VIF and reduced rates of the alternative fumigants. In 2002–2003 and 2003–2004 growing seasons, the fumigants 1,3-D + Pic and Pic were tested at 0, 56, 112, 224, 336, and 448 kg·ha−1 under HDPE and VIF tarps at Oxnard and Watsonville, CA. An untreated control and a MBPic standard at 392 kg·ha−1 were also included in the study. Weed control was assessed using weed propagule viability bioassays for four common weeds, time required for hand weeding, and weed fresh biomass. The fumigant rate that would be needed for a 90% reduction in viability (GR90) for all weeds was 21% to 84% less for 1,3-D + Pic under VIF compared with the HDPE tarp. For Pic, the GR90 values were 5% to 64% less under VIF compared with the HDPE tarp. Hand weeding times and weed biomass decreased with increasing fumigant rates. With the exception of Pic in 2002–2003 at Oxnard, VIF reduced the rate required for weed control compared with the HDPE tarp for both fumigants and at both locations. Economic benefits of VIF relative to the HDPE tarp were not consistent and additional work is needed to quantify these relationships and the production conditions under which VIF will be beneficial.

Free access

Milton E. McGiffen Jr., Steven A. Fennimore, W. Thomas Lanini, and Carl E. Bell

The Food Quality Protection Act may result in the withdrawal from use of many herbicides in the “minor” crops: fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, and ornamentals. An obvious mitigation strategy is to test and register newer, low-rate herbicides that are currently used only in large-acreage field crops. The newer herbicides have low mammalian toxicity, few off-target effects, and are often used at rates of less than 0.1 kg/ha. Many of the older herbicides are applied at rates of several kg/ha and have off-target effects that can make their use problematic. Low-rate herbicides could replace the older chemicals commonly used in horticultural crops. We have tested several promising low-rate herbicides: carfentrazone, cloransulam, dimethenamid, halosulfuron, rimsulfuron, and sulfentrazone. Broccoli, cantaloupe, carrot, lettuce, onion, spinach, and processing tomato varieties were screened for tolerance to low-rate herbicides at four locations in California that included desert, inland, and coastal environments. All of the crops tested had tolerance for one or more of the low-rate herbicides. Data on similar tests for other horticultural crops will also be presented. The potential for registering these herbicides in vegetables and other horticultural crops varies with the crop and the pesticide's manufacturer. Pesticides that may soon face removal from widespread use will be reviewed. Herbicides and other potential alternatives to currently registered herbicides will be examined to determine possible practical alternatives for specific crops and weeds.