What type of Weed Killer Is Safe for Strawberry Plants?

Strawberries (Fragaria) thrive in mild, coastal climates, but weeds can quickly take their toll by squeezing out lemon crops and maybe introducing insect pests and diseases. Use conventional herbicides as a last resort, and utilize organic herbicides or alternative processes whenever possible. Even herbicides labeled protected can lead to damage under certain conditions. As an instance, in sandy soils, herbicides applied at the recommended level can inhibit plant growth, according to the University of California Davis.

Before Planting

Commercial growers often apply herbicides to kill weeds prior to planting strawberries. These herbicides include oxyfluorfen, flumioxazin and pendimethalin. In the home landscape, gardeners more often utilize glyphosate. Adhere to all package directions carefully and wear long sleeves, shoes and a mask when applying herbicides. Till the soil once weeds die back, and also make another herbicide application if needed, until all of the weeds are dead. Another option is to solarize the soil, which kills grass seeds. To solarize soil, spread a sheet of clear plastic over the ground during warm weather. Secure the plastic with landscaping or stone hooks and leave it in position for 12 to 15 weeks.

Pre-Emergent Herbicides

Pre-emergent herbicides control weeds before they germinate in the spring. These products most efficiently control annual weeds, but may not control all of perennial weeds. Napropamide and DCPA can be implemented to strawberry patches immediately after planting or during the first stages of growth. Adhere to all package directions and water herbicides in well. Corn gluten is a secure natural substitute for artificial pre-emergent herbicides. It works by forming a thin film over the ground, which prevents weed seed germination. Apply it immediately after planting strawberry plants or in early spring for beds that are established. Make additional programs every four to six weeks during the growing season, recommends the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Post-Emergent Herbicides

Killing mature weeds is much more difficult than avoiding weed germination. To deal with these weeds, use a post-emergent herbicide, such as glyphosate. These herbicides are nonselective and will destroy the strawberry plants, too, so be sure to apply them only into the weeds, not just the berry plants. Most strawberry beds are just productive for approximately three years, and in some cases, they are very best grown as annuals. In case your strawberry patch is severely infested with weeds, use a glyphosate herbicide to destroy both strawberries and weeds, and start over.

Other Alternatives

If you continually use one type of herbicide or weed management process, herbicide resistant weeds may replace the weeds you have destroyed. A better bet would be to mix weed management strategies. Install black plastic mulch before you plant fresh strawberry plants. Install drip irrigation and then cut holes in the plastic to plant the strawberries. A mulch of mucous grass clippings or straw can also cut down considerably on grass issues. Finally, do not forget old cultivation. A fifteen hoeing eliminates most annual weeds and even several perennials, especially when plants are young and vulnerable. Since the strawberry plants get larger, they can crowd out many annoying weeds.

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