Submitted to: North American Strawberry Conference Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: January 14, 2001
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: In eastern North America, strawberries have traditionally been grown in the matted row production system, but interest is increasing in the annual hill or plasticulture system developed by the California industry. Both systems have beneficial characteristics. One distinct advantage of the plasticulture system is the degree of weed and pest control provided by the combination of plastic mulch and methyl bromide fumigation. However, the environmental costs of the manufacturing and disposal of plastic mulch, and the impending loss of methyl bromide raise concerns regarding the sustainability of this system. New methods are needed for pest control in strawberry, and modifications to strawberry production systems could provide sustainable alternatives. An approach we refer to as "Advanced Matted Row" was developed in an effort to incorporate beneficial aspects of both Annual Hill and traditional Matted Row into a sustainable production system. This system includes matted row-type culture, but on raised beds with sub-surface drip irrigation and an organic mulch. The mulch is the residue of a killed cover crop, with the cover crop fixing nitrogen and providing an economical biodegradable mulch for weed suppression. A significant part of the small fruit breeding program in Beltsville has focused on selecting disease-resistant strawberry cultivars that are adapted to such a production system.