Less may actually be more when it comes to fumigating raspberries, according to an ongoing Washington State University study.
Raspberry growers typically broadcast fumigate entire fields to reduce soilborne pests, according to a news release.
With methyl bromide being phased out, they've had to turn to alternatives.
But each of those alternatives carries myriad rules, such as buffers between treated fields and houses or other public buildings.
Washington raspberry growers have borrowed techniques from California strawberry growers who treat only the bed and not the row middles.
By doing so, they're applying less fumigant per acre. And growers may face reduced buffers.
Thomas Walters, a small fruit horticulturist with Washington State University in Mt. Vernon, is working to validate the concept.
Walters began the study in 2010, and so far the results have been promising.
soil tests from some sites show 10 times more nematodes in broadcast-treated plots than bed-fumigated plots.
Plants in the bed-treated plots are as large or larger than plants in broadcast-fumigated plots.
Walters plans to compare yields from the test plots as well.