Since the U.S. EPA’s 2005 ban of methyl bromide, winter strawberry growers have faced a perplexing dilemma.  How do you control those pesky broadleaf weeds, grasses and nutsedge species that emerge through the transplanting holes in polyethylene mulch?

A new research project featured in the journal Weed Technology shows that one effective approach is to use drip-applied herbicides to treat strawberry beds before the new seedlings are transplanted.

Scientists at the University of Florida’s Gulf Coast Research and Education Center compared the safety and performance of seven herbicides applied through drip irrigation one to two weeks before transplant, including EPTC, flumioxazin, fomesafen, halosulfuron, napropamide, oxyfluorfen and S-metolachlor.

EPTC, fomesafen and napropamide successfully suppressed yellow nutsedge, while flumioxazin, fomesafen and halosulfuron were effective against black medic. Unfortunately, none of the drip-applied herbicides adequately controlled Carolina geranium.

While halosulfuron produced significant (though temporary) injury to strawberry plants, none of the other herbicides in the study did so. There also was no reduction in total berry yield from any of the herbicides in the study.

To find out more about the research project and the benefits of herbicides applied via drip irrigation, look for the article “Weed Control and Strawberry Tolerance to Herbicides Applied through Drip Irrigation” in Weed Technology Vol. 31, Issue 6.

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