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Steven A. Fennimore, Frank N. Martin, Thomas C. Miller, Janet C. Broome, Nathan Dorn and Ian Greene

Steam-disinfestation of soil as an alternative to chemical fumigation was investigated in both research and commercial strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch.) production field trials at four sites over 2 years (2011–13) using new prototype commercial application equipment: a tractor-drawn device that physically mixed the steam with the soil as it passed through the shaped planting beds. Results included significant suppression of weeds and soilborne pathogens equal to commercial chemigation of chloropicrin with 1,3-dichloropropene (Pic-Clor 60). Also, the combination of steam treatment with soil amendments of mustard seed meal (MSM; two of four trials included treatment), a fertilizer and source of additional organic matter, showed very favorable strawberry production in terms of yield as well as weed and pathogen control. Soil nitrogen-containing ions were monitored at two of the sites and the MSM treatment significantly elevated available soil nitrates by the time of transplanting as did the steam treatment alone, but only significantly at one of the sites.