Plan would guide strawberry research into fumigant alternatives

04/09/2013 04:03:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

strawberriesVicky BoydA new action plan would guide research into growing strawberries without soil fumigants.A diverse group, ranging from growers to researchers and environmentalists, has developed an action plan to help guide research into the production of California strawberries without the use of soil fumigants.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation, which oversaw the development of the road map, released the report April 9, according to a news release.

Produce industry representatives include Rod Koda, a Watsonville strawberry grower, and Dan Legard, vice president of research and education for the Watsonville-based California Strawberry Commission.

The action plan identifies research priorities to develop management tools and practices to control soilborne pests in strawberry fields without fumigants.

The report was prompted by the phase out of methyl bromide and increasingly restrictive regulations on other registered soil fumigants.

Among the action plan's recommendations are:

• Expand breeding programs to develop varieties with resistance to soilborne pests;

• Seek viable fumigant options, including anaerobic soil disinfestation, soilless growing medium, steam and biopesticides;

• Determine how these techniques could be combined into an integrated pest management system;

• Provide easily accessed resources to growers; and

• Promote more collaborative research.

The plan complements the department's partnership with the California Strawberry Commission.

A $500,000, three-year research project announced in March will focus on growing strawberries in peat and other soilless medium.

It also complements the department's new research grant program, which includes $500,000 annually for research into production practices that reduce the reliance on fumigants and other high-risk pesticides.

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