Date of Award

8-2019

Degree Name

MS in Agriculture - Plant Protection Science

Department

Horticulture and Crop Science

Advisor

Ashraf Tubeileh

Abstract

Field and lab experiments were conducted to determine the efficacy of sudangrass (Sorghum X drumondii (Nees ex Steud.) Millsp. & Chase) cover crop management techniques and soil solarization on important agricultural weeds and pathogens in organic strawberry production in Central California. Lab experiments assessed the time needed to kill weed seeds at temperatures typically achieved during soil solarization (40°C, 45°C, 50°C, 55°C, and 60°C) in California. Seeds tested included little mallow, redstem filaree, bristly oxtongue, annual sowthistle, common purslane, nettleleaf goosefoot, and redroot pigweed. Efficacy of simulated solarization temperatures differed between different species. Cool-season annuals annual sowthistle and bristly oxtongue were more susceptible to heat treatments than warm-season annuals common purslane, redroot pigweed and nettleleaf goosefoot. Hard seeded weed species little mallow and redstem filaree were the least susceptible to heat treatments. Annual sowthistle, bristly oxtongue and nettleleaf goosefoot were affected at all temperatures. Redroot pigweed and little mallow were not affected by temperatures below 40°C. Common purslane was not affected by temperature below 45°C and redstem filaree was not affect by any temperatures tested. Hours of exposure and percent mortality of weed seeds were used to create thermal death models for weed seeds. Field experiments were conducted at the Cal Poly Organic Farm in San Luis Obispo, CA testing the effects of soil solarization and sudangrass residues on weeds, Verticillium dahliae populations, plant health, and yields in organic strawberry production. Using a split plot design, sudangrass was grown, mowed and then developed into two treatments: surface mulch or incorporated into the soil. The sudangrass treatments and a control were tested with and without soil solarization (n=4). Maximum soil temperatures in solarized treatments were 53°C at a soil depth of 5 cm and 42°C at a soil depth of 15 cm. Solarization reduced weed biomass between 49.8 and 95.2% during the first 3.5 months after tarp removal (p=0.03), reduced Verticillium dahliae populations by 80.7% (p=0.01), reduced plant mortality by 54.9% (pV. dahliae populations (p=0.33) or yields (p=0.25). However, mulched treatments reduced weed biomass between 45.0 and 61.3% (p=0.03) compared to other sudangrass treatments. Results indicate solarization can be used in central coast organic strawberry production to reduce hand-weeding, disease incidence, and increase yields.

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