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  • Author or Editor: Steven A. Fennimore x
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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.

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Allyl isothiocyanate (AITC) is a glucosinolate produced in cruciferous plant species. AITC is known to act as a pesticide on microorganisms, insects, and weeds. Synthetic AITC is registered as a biopesticide for agricultural soil treatment use in the United States and elsewhere in the world. Although a potent pesticide, reports on the weed and pathogen control efficacy of synthetic AITC applied as soil disinfectant are highly variable. Due to the low vapor pressure of AITC, questions remain as to whether pest and weed control efficacy can be improved by combining it with other chemicals. The objective of this study was to assess the control efficacy of AITC stand-alone applications vs. applications, in which AITC was combined with the standard-fumigants chloropicrin, 1,3-dichloropicrin, and methyl isothiocyanate. Two shank-applied on-farm field trials were conducted in cut flower [delphinium (Delphinium elatum), ranunculus (Ranunculus asiaticus)] fields, and two drip tape applied field trials in strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) fields in California. Weed pressure, weed seed viability, nematode survival, and pathogen survival of Pythium ultimum, fusarium wilt (Fusarium oxysporum), and verticillium wilt (Verticillium dahliae) were assessed. Cumulative yearly yield of marketable fruit was assessed in the strawberry field trials. The results of this study show that the use of AITC as a stand-alone treatment provided no consistent weed or pathogen control efficacy. However, our results also indicate that shank and drip applied multitactic fumigation approaches with AITC can efficiently control soil-borne diseases and weeds. These findings have potential implications, especially in those areas where certain fumigants are restricted due to regulations and/or availability.

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Methyl bromide (MB) has been widely used in California cut-flower production for effective control of a broad range of soil pests, including plant pathogens and weeds. However, MB is an ozone-depleting substance, and its availability to growers is limited according to the Montreal Protocol guidelines. Steam has been suggested as a nonchemical option for preplant soil disinfestation. Five trials were conducted in protected greenhouse structure or open-field cut-flower nurseries in Monterey, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura counties to evaluate the effect of steam application, alone or in combination with solarization, on soilborne plant pathogen populations, weed densities, and crop growth. Several steam application methods were used including steam blanket, spike-hose, buried drip irrigation lines, or drain tile, and these varied among trials. Calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) nursery trials initiated in 2007 and 2008 showed that steam alone or with solarization was similar to or more effective than MB:chloropicrin (MBPic), applied via drip lines, in controlling weeds and Verticillium dahliae at 6-inch depth. Trials conducted in Spring and Fall 2009 in an oriental hybrid lily (Lilium sp.) nursery showed that, 112 days after steam treatment (DAT) in the spring, the steam (spike-hose) treatment had fewer Fusarium oxysporum propagules than the MB treatment. Lily plant growth in the steam-treated plots was similar to MB-treated plots and taller than in control plots. In the fall trial, fewer lily plants emerged by 44 DAT in the untreated control than in steam- and MB-treated plots and steam was not as effective as MB in reducing Pythium populations. In the 2010 sunflower (Helianthus annuus) and bupleurum (Bupleurum griffithii) trial, all steam treatments reduced Pythium and Phytophthora cactorum survival compared with the untreated control plots, whereas weed densities were reduced only in the spike-hose steam-treated plots. These trial studies showed that steam appeared as effective as MB in suppressing pathogens and weeds and improving crop growth in cut-flower nurseries. However, additional information on fuel consumption, treatment time efficiency, and long-term effects of steam treatment on soil health are needed before steam can be recommended as a viable alternative to MB in California cut-flower nurseries.

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Strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) production practices followed by growers in the United States vary by region. Understanding the challenges, needs, and opportunities in each region is essential to guide research, policy, and marketing strategies for the strawberry industry across the country, and to enable the development of general and region-specific educational and production tools. This review divided the United States into eight distinct geographic regions and an indoor controlled or protected environment production system. Current production systems, markets, cultivars, trends, and future directions for each region are discussed. A common trend across all regions is the increasing use of protected culture strawberry production with both day-neutral and short-day cultivars for season extension to meet consumer demand for year-round availability. All regions experience challenges with pests and obtaining adequate harvest labor. Increasing consumer demand for berries, climate change-induced weather variability, high pesticide use, labor and immigration policies, and land availability impact regional production, thus facilitating the adoption of new technologies such as robotics and network communications to assist with strawberry harvesting in open-field production and production under controlled-environment agriculture and protected culture.

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