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Biodegradable Films for Establishment Year Weed Suppression in Matted Row Strawberries 2001

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Project Leader(s): Courtney A. Weber, Horticultural Sciences Dept., NYSAES, Cornell University, Geneva, NY 14456

Cooperator(s): Marvin Pritts, Department of Horticulture, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853

Project location(s): nationally

Abstract: Adequate weed control in matted row strawberry plantings in the establishment year is crucial for the long-term viability of the planting. Suppression of weed growth until the new strawberry plants are established and spreading would add a new tool in the management of weeds in new strawberry plantings in New York and nationally where strawberries are grown in matted rows. Three biodegradable films were compared to standard weed control for establishing matted row strawberries. Two films were biodegradable polymer, either clear (IP40clear) or black (IP40black), covering brown 40# Kraft paper (International Paper, Geneva, NY). The third material was planters paper (Ken-Bar, Reading, MA), which is commercially available black paper mulch used for vegetable production. The films were evaluated for their ability to suppress weeds and for their rate of degradation. The ability of runners to root as the film degrades was also observed. The IP40black suppressed weeds significantly compared to the standard control but did not degrade quickly enough for runners to set. It needed to be slit at the end of July to allow runners to root. The planters paper also suppressed weeds significantly. However it degraded quickly along the edges where it was covered by soil. This allowed the wind to tear it and blow large pieces off the plots. The IP40clear degraded in a timely manner, which allowed runner set, but encouraged weed growth so was not acceptable as a weed suppression material. The IP40black and planters paper were effective for weed control in the establishment year but both had major drawbacks that must be addressed before they become widely utilized. Runner formation was not significantly affected by any treatment. Yield and long term degradation of the materials will be assayed in 2002.