Comparison of Crop Rotation for Verticillium Wilt Management and Effect on Pythium Species in Conventional and Organic Strawberry Production
The effects of broccoli and lettuce rotations on population densities of Verticillium dahliae and Pythium spp. in soil and on strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) growth, yield, and Verticillium wilt were evaluated in conventional and organic production systems in California for 2 years. Under both management systems, strawberry was planted after two successive crops of broccoli or lettuce. The control treatment in the conventional field was strawberry planted in soils fumigated with methyl bromide + chloropicrin. Preplant densities of V. dahliae and Pythium sp. did not differ in these fields. At the end of the second broccoli crop, V. dahliae densities in conventional plots had declined by 44% in both years. In contrast, after the second broccoli crop, densities in organic fields decreased 47% in 2000 and 25% in 2001. In general, there were no differences in V. dahliae inoculum densities in organic and conventional plots following lettuce rotations. After the second vegetable production cycle, population densities of V. dahliae in broccoli rotated organic (24 CFU/g of soil in 2000 and 27 CFU/g of soil in 2001) or conventional (23 CFU/g of soil in 2000 and 19 CFU/g of soil in 2001) fields were significantly lower than those in lettuce rotated organic (40 CFU/g of soil in 2000 and 42 CFU/g of soil in 2001) or conventional (39 CFU/g of soil in 2000 and 35 CFU/g of soil in 2001) fields. However, crop rotation treatments had no consistent effect on the inoculum densities of Pythium spp. Canopy diameters of strawberry plants grown in rotation with broccoli were not different from those in fumigated control plots, whereas those from lettuce plots were 10% smaller. Strawberry plant nutrient analysis showed that fertilizer inputs into organic or conventional production were not responsible for the observed differences in plant size. Increases in strawberry yields were not consistent between years. Verticillium wilt incidence on strawberry was 12 to 24% lower in fields rotated with broccoli compared with fields rotated with lettuce. Wilt severity on strawberry was 22 to 36% lower in fields rotated with broccoli compared with those rotated with lettuce. The strategy of using broccoli rotation coupled with postharvest incorporation of broccoli residue continues to show promise as a tool in the management of Verticillium wilt in both conventional and organic strawberry production systems.