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CONTROLLING WEEDS IN STRAWBERRIES

Introduction

Weeds can be a hazard to strawberry production in many ways. They compete with strawberry plants for moisture, nutrients, and light. Strawberry plants are dependent on open space for good light penetration, good water drainage to prevent crown rot, and room for the plants to grow. To achieve this, it is necessary to control weed growth.

Strawberries are planted in raised beds to keep the fruit off the soil. As the berries grow, their foliage can touch the ground, making them more susceptible to weed invasions. To prevent weed growth in strawberries, you must take proactive measures before they even sprout their first leaf.

Watch for different weed varieties

Preventing weed growth in strawberries is crucial for strawberry fields, but some weeds are undesirable even if they’re easy to deal with. For example, wild morning glories spread rapidly by vines that grow into strawberry plant crowns and choke them out. In cases like this where a particular species of weed is particularly aggressive, it may make sense to try a different method of control on those plants rather than going through the whole field and risking damage from other varieties of weeds at the same time.

If you use herbicides, make sure you apply them at the right time and in the correct manner. If they’re applied too early or late, they won’t work as well. Throughout the growing season, strawberry plants will be especially vulnerable to weed growth if their leaves are nipped by frosts or damaged by hail storms. When this happens, weeds can grow into a thick patchwork that creates a monoculture of unwanted vegetation within a field of strawberries that would otherwise be producing high yields.

Before Planting

Weed seeds can be present in virtually any type of soil, so growers need to conduct a preliminary inspection of an area before planting strawberries there. One method is called “walkover scouting” where pairs of people walk through strawberry fields with wide spacing between each other and use their feet to feel for weeds that may have already sprouted or ones that are about to come up. If you find any seedlings, try using one of the weed control methods below:

  • Pull out weeds by hand while the soil is still moist
  • Use pre-emergent herbicide to kill any weed seeds before they sprout

After Planting

Applying a pre-emergent herbicide after planting will not prevent weeds from invading strawberries, but it can kill any new arrivals. When applying this type of chemical, be sure to follow manufacturer instructions for use near strawberries. Once weeds reach about 3 inches in height, you can pull them up and remove them from the field, or cut them with a mower and leave the vegetation on top of the ground where it’ll eventually break down to a manageable size.

Keep Weeds Manageable Using Mulch

You can also prevent weed growth in strawberries by utilizing mulch around the plants, but this may not be an option for organic growers because of the risks associated with using artificial chemicals. Strawberries have shallow roots that benefit from being kept warm and moist. In addition to weeds, straw mulch helps reduce evaporation as well as regulate soil temperature, which is why it’s been used since ancient times. There are many ways you can manage strawberry beds using mulch:

  • Straw bale gardening – Grow strawberries between rows of straw bales and keep them off the ground where they won’t come into contact with weed seeds or soil
  • Weed fabric – Use a type of impermeable weed fabric that prevents seeds from poking through the ground and growing
  • Mulch mat – Take sheets of black plastic and cover the rows in between strawberry plants, then push straw mulch over the edges to prevent it from blowing away or seeping into the soil

If you’re Growing Strawberries organically…

Regular herbicides should never be used on organic strawberry crops. Instead, try tying up weeds with something like baling twine so you can trim them off once they die out. Be sure not to leave any living vegetation in your strawberry field because it could eventually begin to regrow and spread its seed throughout your crop, making it harder to keep weeds at bay.

Regardless of how you choose to combat weedy invaders, remember that weeding and killing weeds should be done early and often for best results. The most important time to keep weeds out of strawberry beds is between March and May, when weeds are at their prime and strawberries are just starting to emerge from the ground. Keeps a close eye on any new growth for hampering weeds so they can’t take hold in your crop, thus limiting the damage they could potentially cause during future growing seasons.

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THE GREEN GOLD MINE.

The Hass Avocado

The Hass avocado is the most popular variety in the world, it originated in La Habra Heights in California in the 1920s and it was patented by Rudolph Hass in 1935, the trees are upright with high vigor which indicates that they will grow tall and require pruning.

The Hass avocado leaves do not produce aniseed smell when crushed; neither do new shoots produce red flecking on wood. The fruits are oval and medium shaped, the flesh recovery stands at 70%. The fruit skin changes color from green to purplish-black when mature and black when ripe, mature fruits weigh between 180 to 350 g. The hass avocado’s maturity is mid-season to late season, it also has one of the longest harvesting seasons and an outstanding shelf-life and good shipping characteristics.

Optimal Ecological Requirement

AltitudeAltitude range between 1200-2500 meters above the sea
RainfallWell distributed rainfall range of not less than 1000mm
Growing TemperatureOptimum growing temperature range of 20℃ to 25℃
SoilDeep, well drained fertile sandy or alluvial loam soil with pH ranging from 5.5-6.5

PLANTING

Trees should be planted at the beginning of the seasonal rainfall and as soon as the rain has deeply penetrated the ground. Trees planted at this time of the year have a full growing period ahead to establish themselves before the next dry season.

Site selection and Ploughing

In selecting planting site, a well-drained site is given top priority since avocado is highly affected by water logging and phytophthora root rot disease. Ensure there are no clay layers within a depth of 2ft. Hollowing is avoided where water accumulates even for short period, soil should be ploughed sufficiently to eliminate debris and clods, plough to a fine tilth. Avoid field operations when it is wet to avoid soil compaction and hard pans which affect proper root development. Soil analysis should be done at least 6 months before planting, to allow time for required fertilizers be applied and soil be conditioned ready for planting.

Planting and bringing the tree to bearing

The following aspects need to be considered when planting a new orchard

  • Soil type
  • Climate
  • Availability of irrigation water
  • Management skills
  • Cultivar to be planted

Spacing of Hass avocado can vary from 5m by 5m to 9m by 5m. To facilitate movement of orchard equipment between the trees for spraying and harvesting, a rectangular system should be applied.

The tree rows should be planted as close as possible in an east-west direction for maximum sunlight on both sides of the trees. The tree drip area should be kept clean of any growing crop but should be mulched.

Planting procedure

Ensure that at the time of planting the soil is clean of weeds in the planting rows, the irrigation has been installed and is in a working condition and enough stakes are available for supporting the trees directly after planting.

Trees are kept upright and out of direct sunlight until they are physically planted. Planting holes can be dug with a hoe and spade and needs to be 2ft by 2ft by 2ft.

Bag is carefully cut open along one side without disturbing the root system. Loose soil is piled into planting hole so that the soil level of the avocado tree will be 1/3 above the ground. The tree is then kept upright and the hole is filled with soil and firmly pressed down, fill to the soil level of the planting bag.

Mulching is done around the tree to prevent drying out of the soil and keep the root system cool and active.

Supporting should be done using 1.8 to 2.0m treated poles/bamboo sticks, planted +/- 50mm away from the main stem of the tree. Fastening the trees against the pole should not be too tightly done rather loosely. Care should be taken to ensure the stake is not placed within the root zone.

IRRIGATION

Avocados have large soft leaved and evaporate a lot of water in warm weather, so they need regular watering in case of insufficient rainfall especially during flowering and fruit setting. The amount of water required for an avocado plant in a week is about 70 Litres on average.

When to irrigate

When signs of stress from lack of water begin to show, it’s the most efficient way to water. The following signs are indication of water stress;

  • Footprints or tire tracks that remain in the grass long after being made.
  • Many leaf blades folded in half.
  • If a soil sample sought from a profile 1-2 ft. deep is not pliable and shreds into soil droplets upon dropping to the ground.
  • Premature fruit drop and /or flaccid fruits on trees.

Rate of evaporation and the soil moisture content can also be used to know when irrigation should be done. In this case, moisture indicators known as irrometers are used to measure the soil moisture content. They should be placed at a distance of 30cm (12 inches) and 60cm (24 inches) from the top soil, since that is the root zone for an avocado plant.

Efficiency of water application

  • Efficient watering does not saturate the soil and does not allow water to run off.
  • Extremes in watering frequency and amount should be avoided since they lead to water runs off and wastage.
  • Light frequency on the other hand, is inefficient and encourages shallow/restricted root systems.
  • 2-3 irrigation rounds per week in the peak irrigation periods is typically ideal. In case of rainfall, irrigation should be suspended depending on rainfall amounts.

Timing of irrigation

The best time to irrigate is in the early morning hours and/or late evening to avoid water wastage through evaporation if done during the day.

Avocados require 8000-9000m3 per Ha for the whole year including rain water supply. The moisture requirement varies in amount depending on the prevailing physiological stage. These stages include; flowering, fruit set, fruit drop, fruit sizing and fruit quality.

You got to love this,

This coming rainy season, OxfarmAg Limited is rolling out a hass avocado package plan amounting to Kshs.40,500 where we targeting 99 Farmers for 99 Acres with 99 FREE Beehives.

What is in the package? (40,500/- per Acre)

Our package comes with;

  • 150 certified Hass avocado seedlings
  • Agronomist support.
  • Soil treatment using the organic manure for the 150 seedlings
  • Labor (digging holes and planting)
  • Free consultation
  • Free Beehive per acre
  • Market connection

Additional costs

  • Transport (20/- per Km to & from any of our nearest branch)
  • Agronomist farm pre-visit expense (allowance + transport)
  • Soil Test (2,800 per sample)

Kenya is ranked 8th producer of Hass avocado globally with the production and ability to export 30 tonnes to Canada, Europe, UAE and China. With the rising demand Kenyan farmers are looking forward to expand their export market to South Korea, which is highly ranked in regards to the consumption of the fruit. In the export market each fruit retails between Kshs.10-20 but still not possible to satisfy the incoming demand.