Why Soil Fumigation Changed the Strawberry Industry

Olver, Ryan and David Zilberman

from ARE Update Vol. 25, No. 3, Jan/Feb, 2022

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We assess the U.S. strawberry industry and its transition from land to capital intensity, with emphasis on the role of methyl bromide, a broad-spectrum soil fumigant, and its impact on the supply chain. Historical analysis suggests strawberries’ unique characteristics made them particularly well-suited for monoculture, and that disease control was the means—not the cause—for adopting this system. We also argue that the geographic concentration and the stability it permitted are the root causes of the immense productivity gains in strawberry production from the mid-20th century onward.


Methyl Bromide, monoculture, intensive farming, historical analysis, perishables


Olver, Ryan and David Zilberman. 2022. "Why Soil Fumigation Changed the Strawberry Industry." ARE Update 25(3): 5-8. University of California Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics.