New Strawberry Method Shows Great Promise

new strawberry method shows great promiseStrawberry growers have long sought to increase production to meet the demand for fresh strawberries.  And, demand is high.  The epicenter of world strawberry production is the state of California.  Over 40,000 acres of strawberries are cultivated each year, and approximately half of that total is located in Watsonville and Salinas.  Strawberry cultivation has obstacles to overcome, however.  Soil pathogens have long been a thorn in the flesh of farmers trying to maximize production.  Over the years, numerous attempts have been made to solve the problem of crop loss due to infection from fungal organisms.

Methyl bromide was used as a fumigant to sterilize soil.  After being condemned internationally many years ago, it has slowly been phased out here as well.  Methyl iodide, the replacement fumigant that followed, could have been used on strawberry farms, but was pulled last year after widespread concern over its alleged toxicity was raised by environmental groups.  This void of effective chemical fumigants opened the door for a new, organic production method to prevent disease.

Enter anaerobic soil disinfestation.

Anaerobic soil disinfestation is a new treatment that seems to work as well as past fumigation techniques, without the dangers.  As part of the treatment, carbon sources like rice bran, molasses and grape skins are mixed into the soil.  A tarp is placed over the field, and drip irrigation is used to saturate the planting beds, thus triggering the growth of anaerobic bacteria.  While not completely understood as of yet, the anaerobic bacteria probably produce organic acids that inhibit the fungal organisms.  And, if that wasn't hope-inspiring enough, the process is less-expensive than traditional fumigation methods.

Strawberries already have a reputation for being dirty.  Should this organic technique catch on, it very well could be a win-win for both growers and consumers looking for a methyl iodide alternative.  This new strawberry method shows great promise.

To read more, see here: Growing Berries Without Bromide.

4 comments to New Strawberry Method Shows Great Promise

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Thanks for your thoughts! Reading your post brought back memories of aldol condensation reactions. Dropping cesium into water was a bit more fun, however…

  • Alice

    When a bug bites into a crucifer like kale, broccoli, mustard, myrosinase enzyme creates a glucosinolate containing a cyanate salt which probably has a toxic effect in the insect’s gut becoming cyanide which while it might not kill the insect would discourage further predation. Perhaps you could juice mustard greens and spray the juice on your plants for bug protection. I am researching whether the high natural levels of methyl bromide in kelp can be systemically absorbed by plants. I can’t see much difference in applying methyl bromide as kelp powder versus injecting it as a purified product to fumigate soil.
    Bromide preferentially competes with I- in the thyroid gland in making thyroid hormones. Methyl bromide is highly toxic perhaps via damaging the symporter that moves the I- into the gland or other receptor site.

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Caroline

    Why don’t they try compost materials instead in soil and try acidic soil since strawberries thrive on erosion like soil. Perlite and like of rocks and materials that composition I try not use any fertilizer in my strawberries but when they need extra push to production. I use fish & kelp fertilizer instead of super grow. Its preferable it has 5-5-0 composition and its organic. I would like to get my hands on some sea kelp but I don’t want bug problems that come with it. Earlier on I do use goat Manure that has aged if that helps anyone, and charcoal bits. Seems to improve plant life. Far as I know none of my plants have died, from what I know they lack is from gardener and farmer is either over-watering and compassion to see if they are ready.

    For bug issues try to grow some companion plants, like beneficial flowers that attract bees, and lady bugs and insects that decrease on number of problems. I do think the only problem the strawberry plants have are Birds and slugs and copper tape and bird-x tape should do the trick to keep them away. I should warn the moss does tend grow near the strawberry plants, near the crown and root stem and it hinders it all the time. so it would need to cleaned around. Moss isn’t strawberry’s best friend it would over-crowded it and starve expansion. I think in way you could place Pansies or viola plants tend to help create production. I do have butterfly-weed growing alongside with some strawberries. I do grow in my container garden…which is easy compared in rows of land when your going against in ground pests. But still I kind wonder for those who work at daily battle what sort thing do they work against squirrels and moles and mice of sorts when their strawberries go missing on field? I am not going add onto because I feel if I add anymore I will bark and bite onto and not let go. 😀

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