To Remain Viable, California Strawberry Growers will need to use Fumigants for Years to Come

Strawberry Production: California

Strawberry Production: California

California is the top strawberry growing state producing 2-3 billion pounds per year. California accounts for 20% of the world’s production of strawberries. Since about 1965, approximately 90% of strawberry land in California has been fumigated before each crop is planted. Statewide average strawberry yields tripled following the adoption of fumigation. Generally, the increase in strawberry yield is credited to effective control of the soilborne fungal disease, verticillium wilt, which attacks the water-conducting tissue of the plant. In recent years, the use of fumigants in California has been under intense regulatory review with a phaseout of methyl bromide and use restrictions which could include expanded buffer zones in strawberry fields where fumigation will not be permitted. A recent working group in California assessed the status of nonfumigant alternatives……

“Owing to potentially devastating soilborne pests, strawberry growers have relied on soil fumigation treatments for many years.

Director Brian Leahy of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation convened in April 2012 a working group of industry and scientific leaders to develop an action plan of research priorities for developing cost-effective management tools and practices for soilborne pests of strawberries in the absence of conventional fumigants.

The Working Group recognized that over the last 20 years, many studies focused on breeding disease-resistant plants and testing soil treatments such as anaerobic soil disinfestation, biopesticides, biofumigants, soilless substrate, steam, and solarization.

Yet to be done is testing combinations of alternatives in extensive field trials and on-farm demonstrations.

Full implementation of the action plan will require a major commitment of time and resources by a broad range of groups in the private and public sectors, such as researchers, funding institutions, growers, grower organizations, farmworker advocates, community and environmental organizations, and consumers.

Even with full commitment to implement this action plan, the strawberry industry will need to continue its use of fumigants for years to remain viable in California.”

Title: Nonfumigant strawberry production working group action plan
Source: California DPR. April 2013. Available at: http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/pestmgt/strawberry/work_group.htm

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