To give their plants a healthy head start, many strawberry growers rely on soil fumigants to control nematodes, soil-borne fungal diseases and weeds. But these effective tools are on their way out. Environmental and health regulations, including the approaching phaseout of methyl bromide, have severely constrained the type and amount of fumigants that can be used.
Moreover, no new chemical soil treatments are in the pipeline, experts say. As a result growers face the scary prospect of raising strawberries with little fumigant or none at all. Researchers and farmers hope to replace fumigants by scaling up nonchemical soil treatments and developing disease resistant plant varieties and beneficial soil microbes.
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