- Fruits: berries (strawberries)
- Crop Production: application rate management, organic fertilizers
- Pest Management: allelopathy, biofumigation, cultivation, mulches - general, mulching - plastic
- Production Systems: integrated crop and livestock systems, organic agriculture
- Soil Management: toxic status mitigation
- Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, urban/rural integration
The mid-Atlantic region is third most dominant region in regards to strawberry (Fragaria ananassa) production in the United States. Virginia is among the top 14 states in the United States in regards to strawberry production with the strawberry industry valued at $ 5 million. Soil borne pests including weeds and diseases are a problem in strawberry production. Early season weeds can compete with newly transplanted strawberry plugs for nutrients, light, and other resources. Current choices of pre-plant fumigants and herbicides registered for use in strawberry plasticulture production make weed control a challenge nationwide in strawberry production. Previous work conducted with soil solarization as a pre-plant weed control tool, including some recent studies in Virginia indicate that soil solarization will need to be integrated with other tools for better pest control performance, and to have a positive impact on crop yields. We propose to integrate pelleted products: corn gluten meal, paper pellet mulch, and mustard seed meal with 8 week soil solarization treatment, and evaluate the effects of these treatments on weed control, disease expression in field, plant crop growth, and crop yields. The dose rates of these products will be chosen keeping in mind the economic sustainability of the treatments. A simple economic analysis will be done based on treatment input and dose rates, labor hours needed to hand weed plots in various treatments, and estimate crop value based on marketable fruit yields. Fruit quality factors including fruit firmness, sweetness, and size will be evaluated.
Project objectives from proposal:
• Evaluate pelleted products of mustard seed meal, paper, corn gluten meal integrated with soil solarization for weed control in annual strawberry plasticulture system.
• Evaluate the effect of using pelleted products on crop yield of strawberries.
• Evaluate the nutritional status of plants as a result of using pelleted products.
• Evaluate crop growth through taking canopy growth data, and estimate growth of roots using a software.
• Evaluate fruit quality of fruits as fruit firmness, sweetness and size.
• Evaluate disease of plants in field.
• Perform a cost analysis of using the pelleted products with soil solarization in a practical scenario at a grower’s farm.