Renovation of strawberry

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.

We are approaching the end of strawberry season, which means it is time for bed renovation for perennial plantings. Renovation is the most important activity each year to maintain and improve strawberry yield and quality. Fields normally are harvested for two to three years after the year of transplanting. Weed control, especially of perennials, is essential for good production.

The EPA has approved a Section 18 Emergency Exemption for use of Spartan 4F again this year. We have had this Section 18 for many years now, and we anticipate issuance of the Section 3 label soon, since a tolerance has been established. Spartan provides good control of many broadleaf weeds, including common groundsel, field pansy, mayweed chamomile, redroot pigweed, white campion and yellow woodsorrel. It is weak on grasses, so a grass herbicide should be included in the mix at renovation. Growers have a choice of Devrinol, Sinbar, Ultra Blazer, or Prowl H2O for application at renovation. Sinbar gives the longest residual weed control and the widest spectrum, but also lasts the longest in the soil. This may cause problems in future crop rotations. Prowl H2O is a relatively new label. It provides good suppression of most annual grasses and broadleaves, but is weak on common ragweed and other composites, and mustards. A tank mix with Spartan should control most annual weeds.

For perennial weed control, consider applying 2,4-D after mowing. 2,4-D controls or suppresses most broadleaved annuals and perennials. There normally are sufficient leaves left on the weeds to absorb the herbicides.

Wait a couple of days after mowing to allow the 2,4-D to be absorbed, then spread a complete fertilizer (eg, 300 lb per acre of 20-20-20) and rotavate the rows back to eight to 12 inches wide. Then apply the preemergence herbicides. A final step in renovation is to thin the plants to about eight to 10 inches apart in the rows. This normally is done by hand with a hoe.

Effective renovation is the key to good strawberry production the following year. If it is done effectively, a planting may be maintained productively for more than two years.

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