Solarization and steam heat combined to control weeds in straberry

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2008: $19,974.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Grant Recipient: University of California, Davis
Region: Western
State: California
Graduate Student:
Principal Investigator:
Steve Fennimore
University of California, Davis

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: berries (strawberries)
  • Additional Plants: ornamentals


  • Crop Production: application rate management
  • Education and Training: demonstration, display, extension, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: agricultural finance, feasibility study
  • Pest Management: physical control, sanitation, soil solarization
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures, urban/rural integration

    Proposal abstract:

    The objective of this research will be to develop an economically feasible solarization plus steam heat, soil disinfestation system for field-grown flowers and strawberry. Soil solarization performance in cool coastal areas of California is inconsistent due to fog and cool summer temperatures that normally result in soil temperatures too low to kill soil pests. Coastal California is also the principal strawberry fruit and cut flower production region, and solarization has displaced virtually no methyl bromide (MB) use in these crops. Soil disinfestation with steam has a long and proven track record for control of soil pests including weeds and pathogens in greenhouse and nursery settings. However, use of steam at the field level has been limited due to difficulty in treating large areas with existing steam applicators and high energy costs for steam disinfestation. Injection of steam into finished planting beds with a mobile steam generator under clear polyethylene mulch, as used for solarization, would allow the use of steam to supplement solarization as needed.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    To accomplish these goals the research will be conducted both on small plot fields and in commercial demonstration plots. In the small plot studies several treatments will be evaluated to find the optimal combination of solarization and steam to control soil pests. The most viable of these treatments will then be used in commercial demonstration plots to evaluate the treatment under commercial conditions and demonstrate the method to growers first hand. Data such as hand weeding times, production costs and crop yields will be used to determine if the treatments are economically viable.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.