Strawberries, an important Florida crop, are grown on raised beds covered with plastic mulch. The plastic mulch provides good control of many weeds, but some problem species can emerge from the transplant hole during crop establishment. POST herbicide options for broadleaf weed control within the strawberry bed is limited to clopyralid, which only provides suppression. Strawberry canopy shielding may be responsible for the observed incomplete control with clopyralid application for problematic broadleaf weed species such as black medic and Carolina geranium. Two field experiments were established on mature strawberries to evaluate spray penetration through the canopy. The first examined spray penetration through the canopy of multiple strawberry cultivars at various distances from the crown. The second examined the effects of application volumes and nozzle selection on spray penetration. Cultivar selection had no effect on spray penetration through the canopy. In the first study, when applying at 281 L ha-1, the area around the planting hole (0 to 5 cm from the crown) had 8% coverage below the canopy while the area below the canopy edge (10 to 15 cm from the crown) had 27% coverage. In the second study, increasing the application volume from 187 to 375 L ha-1 increased coverage by 81%. Increasing the application volume from 375 to 740 L ha-1 increased coverage 33% with maximal coverage of 53% at 740 L ha-1. Nozzle type (standard even flat spray tip, Drift Guard, or TwinJet nozzles) did not affect coverage or deposition volume below the canopy. Overall, mature strawberry canopies demonstrated similar spray droplet penetration across cultivars with increased penetration with increased distance from the crown. Penetration increased with increasing application volume, but the nozzle types used in this experiment did not affect penetration. Additional research is needed to better define the effect of application volume on herbicide efficacy.
Nomenclature: Strawberry, Fragaria × ananassa (Weston) Duchesne ex Rozier