However, the EU pesticides review and agrochemical companies' decisions not to renew the registration of some herbicides has resulted in a significant reduction.
The HDC soft fruit panel commissioned herbicide specialist John Atwood of ADAS to find alternatives for use in the planting hole of polythene mulched beds and between the beds. HDC project SF 91, a screening trial, included only herbicides likely to retain their approval status. The effectiveness and crop safety of residual and contact-acting herbicides were assessed when applied over the tops of beds and between bed rows.
For residual control, Devrinol, Dual Gold (SOLA 1389/10) and Goltix Flowable (SOLA 0856/07) performed well and were safe when applied overall post-planting. Dual Gold could provide control over a range of weeds. Goltix Flowable, approved for use post-harvest from September, could be a useful alternative to propachlor (Ramrod) for short-term residual control of groundsel.
For contact action, Dow Shield and a phenmedipham product, Beetup (not currently approved on strawberries but other phenmedipham formulations are), offered control options and did not give rise to residues when applied pre-flowering.
Chikara was the most effective total herbicide for weed control. It is approved for use on land not intended for cropping. The HDC is investigating the potential of gaining a SOLA.
Shark gave better control of runners between beds than Reglone but not as good as Harvest. However, there is no approval for using Shark in cropping strawberries.
- For details on all HDC activities, visit www.hdc.org.uk.