February 25, 2018

Weed control – what not to do

The winter rye, which was planted in May 2017 as a cover crop in between the rows, failed to provide adequate cover to suppress weeds.  By mid-August, the winter rye had died off, which allowed weeds to take over in between the rows.  Our best guess is that the winter rye had met it’s reasonable life expectancy and died off naturally.  For purposes of our project, we were hoping to find a cover crop that could successfully act as a natural weed suppression from May through mid-October.  Based on our experience with winter rye, we would not recommend winter rye as a cover crop for weed suppression in strawberry production.  Even though our fruit quality or quantity was not affected by the amount of weeds in between the rows, we are still seeking other cover crop options.

While weed pressure was strong in between the rows, the plastic mulch acted as an excellent barrier, preventing weeds from growing in the strawberry row.

For next years trial, our plan is to find another cover crop alternative for weed suppression in between the strawberry rows.  It is extremely important for us to identify a cover crop that is not an alternative host for the tarnished plant bug, which can be devastating to strawberry fruit quality.

Additionally, due to the lack of cover crop, more soil was exposed.  With every rainfall, the soil would “splash” onto the strawberry plants and fruit.  It takes a considerable amount of time and labor to clean the strawberries prior to consuming.

Soil, as shown, on the plastic.