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  • Author or Editor: Mark S. Johnson x
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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.

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