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Soil disinfestation with steam has potential to partially replace fumigants such as methyl bromide, chloropicrin, and 1,3-dichloropropene because it is effective, safer to apply, and has less negative impact on the environment. Here, we compared the efficacy of steam and steam + mustard seed meal (MSM) to chloropicrin on soil disinfection, plant growth, and fruit yield in a strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) fruiting field. The MSM was applied at 3368 kg·ha−1 before the steam application. Steam was injected into a 3-m-wide reverse tiller that was set to till 30 to 40 cm deep. Soil temperatures at depths of 10, 20, 25, and 35 cm were monitored. Steam and steam + MSM treatments reduced the viability of purslane seeds and nutsedge tubers, microsclerotia density of Verticillium dahliae, propagule density of Pythium ultimum, cumulative weed densities, and biomass compared with the nontreated control. Moreover, the steam application was as efficacious as chloropicrin on these pests. The growth and fruit yield of strawberries grown on soils previously treated with the steam and steam + MSM treatments were similar to those in the chloropicrin treatment and were higher than those in the nontreated control. Our study indicated that steam, steam + MSM, and chloropicrin are equally effective at suppressing weeds and soilborne pathogens. These results suggest that the steam and steam + MSM treatment can be a practical alternative for soil disinfestation in conventional and organic strawberry fields.


Published in HortScience, Volume 56, Issue 4, April 2021, by the American Society for Horticultural Science. Available via doi: 10.21273/HORTSCI15669-20.

This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (