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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Corvallis, Oregon » Horticultural Crops Disease and Pest Management Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #359433

Research Project: Development of Knowledge-based Approaches for Disease Management in Small Fruit and Nursery Crops

Location: Horticultural Crops Disease and Pest Management Research Unit

Title: Polyethylene and biodegradable plastic mulches improve growth, yield, and weed management in floricane red raspberry

item ZHANG, H - Washington State University
item MILES, C - Washington State University
item GHIMIRE, S - University Of Connecticut
item BENEDICT, C - Washington State University
item Zasada, Inga
item DEVETTER, L - Washington State University

Submitted to: Scientia Horticulturae
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/21/2019
Publication Date: 4/1/2019
Citation: Zhang, H., Miles, C., Ghimire, S., Benedict, C., Zasada, I.A., Devetter, L.W. 2019. Polyethylene and biodegradable plastic mulches improve growth, yield, and weed management in floricane red raspberry. Scientia Horticulturae. 250:371-379.

Interpretive Summary: Red raspberry production is an important component of the rural economy in northwestern Washington. This production system is challenged with the sustainable management of weeds and plant-parasitic nematodes, both of which can decrease yield of raspberry; new ways to manage these pest are needed. This research was conducted to determine the effects of nondegradable and biodegradable plastic mulches on weed suppression, nematodes, soil temperature and plant productivity compared to the industry standard of bare ground without mulch. Results indicate that plastic mulches increase soil temperatures and effectively suppressed weeds. Additionally, raspberry grown under plastic mulch had increased fruit yields compared to raspberry grown on bare ground. Impacts on nematodes was less clear, with some plastic mulches increasing numbers of nematodes in the roots of plants compared to the industry standard. These findings will help guide growers and researchers in designing production practices that reduce the impact of weeds and nematodes on raspberry productivity.

Technical Abstract: Polyethylene (PE) mulch and biodegradable plastic mulches (BDMs) have been used in annual vegetable and strawberry production systems for several decades due to the ability of mulches to suppress weeds, modify soil temperature and moisture, and promote earlier and greater yields. However, there are few studies that have explored mulch use in perennial production systems. The overall objective of this study was to compare PE mulch and BDMs to growers’ standard practice of bare ground (BG) without mulch in a floricane red raspberry production system in northwestern Washington, USA. Cumulative weed growth, root lesion nematode (Pratylenchus penetrans; RLN) population densities, soil temperature and moisture, cumulative plant growth, and fruit yield were evaluated in a ‘WakeField’ red raspberry field in 2017 and 2018. Compared to the BG control, PE mulch and BDMs successfully suppressed weeds and generally increased soil temperature. Root lesion nematode population densities were greater in soil covered with PE mulch than Bio360 0.5 and in raspberry roots from plots treated with PE mulch than BASF 0.6 and BG control. Primocane height and number were greater for plants treated with mulch relative to the BG control in 2017. Average fruit yield of plants from the mulched treatments was 34% greater than the BG control. This research demonstrated that PE mulch and BDMs improved raspberry plant growth and yield. These benefits suggest that there is the potential for the application of PE and BDMs in other perennial crops.