weed killer and strawberries

Lee True HulcherApril 2, 2005

Hey all,

Bad question here, but I have to ask. I have 3000 strawberry plants in about 1/2 an acre and they are being smothered by weeds faster then I can weed by hand. Question is: does anyone out there know of a weed killer that won't harm the strawberries, but give me a head start on the weeds? Like a weed and feed for strawberries?

thanks LeeC

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Mulch? Something heavy enough to squish the existing weeds that you can lay down between the plants, like maybe wet cardboard or lots of newspaper layers?


    Bookmark   April 2, 2005 at 11:11PM
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I have 1000 with the same problem. If I don't get them under control this year, I think I'll till them under. I did till between the rows last year late-ish, and that has made a difference, but there are too many weeds in the rows, and therefore, not enough runners, so production is low. I think it is easier to start over with a weed-free spot. Is there such a place?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2005 at 10:56AM
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Lee True Hulcher

Has anyone out there ever used the black plastic with the 2" holes cut in it every 6" or so. I am wondering how long it would take to transplant 3000 muture strawberries plus all the runners to that system? Leec

    Bookmark   April 3, 2005 at 1:01PM
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I think you'd be better off starting with new plants!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2005 at 8:41PM
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jayreynolds(zone 6/7)

IMHO, the key to keeping strawberries weed free is a good start, and plenty of mulch. I use wood chips and practically smother the plants as winter approaches. many growers use straw, I've also used chopped leaves, but be careful about using whole leaves which mat down and smother. I've used aged sawdust, but would suggest a light application of straw on top of that to keep the berries clean, because sawdust tends to splash up on the berries and make them dirty. Unless your soil is rich, you might need extra nitrogen to counteract the way some high carbon mulches draw it away from the soil.

The strawberries can push through 2" of mulch easily in spring, if they had a good start getting established in the fall. Most commercial growers use soil fumigation to start off clean at planting time and replant after one crop. This allows them to use plasticulture, and they don't use the runners. Some use up to 6" of straw during winter, but pull it back in spring to allow emergence.

That said, if you get a section clean weeded, and since the berries probably haven't started active growth yet, try mulching now, preferably with something that you can sprinkle on. Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 7:31AM
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rainydays(4 WI)


    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 9:26AM
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Lee True Hulcher

thanks guys, and gals LOL,
I am not willing to give up on my plants yet. I like the mulching idea, but all I have at this time for mulch is goat manured straw, mixed in with some alalfa. I don't know the weed content in this stuff, but will give it a shot.
Thanks again for the help

    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 10:39AM
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I want to start a new cultural practice for the matted row berries and you can say you heard it first here. I've been growing berries for years and weeds were always a chalange and labor costs are rediculous. Everyone says you need to mulch in the fall; well you don't need to in most areas of the country. Straw in the fall interferes with my weed control practices and in fact just introduces more weed seeds. I've used shredded newspaper for years with success but as your customers build houses closer to your operation you need to be careful not to be accused of littering. So here is the scoop:

Start with a relatively weed devoid planting area by following a weed competing crop. Plant your berries for matted row and use equipment to cultivate rows until runner set prohibits, you should do some hand cultivating around the plants and pick the blossoms the planting year. Then let nature take its course. Let the weeds grow thru the fall and don't spread straw over the bed. In early spring, before any new growth starts, mow off the weeds staying well above the crowns ((4+" high) and spray the bed with 8 lb/A Devrinol. you should hit as much bare ground as possible and do it just prior to or during rain to wash it into the ground. I usually combine Ridomil at this spraying to control Leather Rot. They spread straw lightly over the crop with the idea of KEEPING FRUIT CLEAN. You want the plants to easily be able to find light and grow thru the straw. Afew weeks later you need to control the grasses- Rainydays hit the nail-on-the-head...Poast. Make sure you use crop oil so the Poast will work. At this point you should have eliminated the annuals(Devrinol)and grasses(Poast). The perenials are usually not a problem.Dandelions I ignore; Thistles and curly dock can be hand hoed or "Precision Spray" with Roundup on a calm day.

So there you have it. You will be amazed at how your patch looks at picking time-- when it matters. I've renovated and used this practice for the last five years with similar yields as when I spent hundred$ on labor and extra straw.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2005 at 9:09AM
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