- Fruits: berries (strawberries)
- Crop Production: organic fertilizers
- Pest Management: botanical pesticides
- Production Systems: organic agriculture, permaculture
- Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures
The strawberry industry in mid-Atlantic is chiefly dominated by June bearers, short day cultivars, which restrict the peak production to spring or early summer seasons only, thereafter the primary supply is maintained by import from California (Mar.-Nov.) and Florida (Dec.-Feb.). We are expecting further decline in strawberry production on the Delmarva Peninsula due to inclement weather (rain and high temperature) throughout the growing season of June bearers. Pest and disease pressure on the Eastern shore of Maryland are high due to high temperature, high humidity and frequent rainfall during the growing season of strawberries. It has prevented most farmers from growing strawberries without the use of toxic inorganic pesticides. This study will examine the benefits of spraying Kaolin clay on two varieties of day neutral strawberries, to reduce diseases and thwart pests. This approach will reduce or completely eliminate the use of inorganic pesticides and insecticides, which will benefit the ecologically fragile environment on the Eastern Shore of MD. In addition, it will help other farmers to adapt this approach to successfully grow strawberries for the benefit at farm. Moreover, our work will also provide the baseline information on the adverse effects of Kaolin clay on indigenous strawberry pests and pathogens. This sustainable approach will promote organic cultivation of strawberries in our area. The selection of day neutral strawberries in the proposed work will also extend the strawberry season beyond 6 weeks, attract customers at farm for a longer duration of time and promote business
Project objectives from proposal:
Objective #1: This project will evaluate the effectiveness of Kaolin clay spray on different day neutral strawberries in controlling common fungal strawberry diseases on the Eastern shore of Maryland, including strawberry leaf scorch, gray mold, and strawberry leaf spot. Data will be shared with local growers through field days and UMES Small Farm Conference.
Objective #2: This project will evaluate the effectiveness of Kaolin clay spray on different day neutral strawberries in thwarting common pests on the Eastern shore of Maryland, including Japanese beetle, crickets, and leaf hoppers. Data will be shared with local growers through field days and UMES Small Farm Conference.
If proven effective, Kaolin clay will be shown to be an organic and safer method for local farmers to treat strawberries. Presently, very few farmers grow fruit on the Eastern shore due to the excessive amounts or inorganic treatments required under conventional farming. This information will be shared with other farmers to accelerate local production of strawberries in our area. This research will encourage local farmers to grow fruit using organic methods.