Virginia Tech®home

Jayesh Samtani

Assistant Professor and Small Fruit Extension Specialist

Jayesh B. Samtani, Professional Lecturer, Small Fruit Production Specialist, Hampton Roads AREC, Department of Horticulture.

Jayesh Samtani
1444 Diamond Springs Road
Virginia Beach, VA


  • Ph.D., Horticulture, 2008, Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 
  • M.S., Horticulture, 2003, Dept. of NRES, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 
  • B.S., Horticulture, 2001, College of Horticulture, Mahatma Phule Agriculture University.


  • Assistant Professor and Small Fruit Extension Specialist, Virginia Tech., 2016-Present.
  • Small Fruit Production Specialist, Department of Horticulture, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Present).
  • Post-Doctoral Scholar, Department of Plant Sciences, University of California-Davis (2008-2012).


  • 2019 Class of Leaders, Forty under 40, Fruit + Vegetable Industry, awarded by the Great American Media.
  • 2019 Outstanding Extension Materials Award, Leaflet Category, Extension Division of American Society for Horticultural Science, for Virginia Cooperative Extension Publication, HORT 268P.
  • 2017 Team State Award, Virginia Strawberry Association Newsletter, by Virginia Association of Extension Ag. Agents.
  • 2007 Graduate Teaching Award. Presented by North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) for the course Home Vegetable Gardening taught at the University of Illinois.
  • Cited for teaching excellence in the list of Teaching Assistants at University of Illinois. Fall 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007; Spring 2006 and spring 2007.

The mission of my program is to develop an integrated research and outreach program that yields sustainable solutions to commercial berry growers while ensuring the economic viability of berry production. The specific focus of my research is the areas of (i) methyl bromide alternatives, (ii) cultivar evaluation, (iii) season extension, and (iv) supplementary nutrient application.

(i)           Methyl bromide alternatives. Alternative fumigant options to methyl bromide include 1,3-dichlorpropene (1,3-D), chloropicrin (Pic), metam sodium, metam potassium, dimethyl disulphide, and allyl isothiocyanate. Due to human health issues with these fumigants, EPA, USDA and state regulatory authorities place stringent regulations on their use. These regulations include completing a fumigation management plan prior to application, following Worker Protection Standards as per the fumigant label, and leaving untreated buffer areas, especially for fields adjacent to homes, schools, and hospitals. With increasing challenges facing fumigation, it is important to evaluate non-fumigant approaches. Through replicated, randomized trials from the 2013 to 2016 growing seasons, my program has identified that longer durations of soil solarization (6 to 8 weeks) have merit for adoption as a preplant disinfestation tool in non-fumigated land, in buffer zones that need to be maintained around fumigated land, or on organic sites. These findings were published in the journal Weed Technology (2017) and disseminated in various extension talks. Soil solarization can be achieved by covering the raised beds with an impermeable clear polyethylene mulch, keeping the soil moisture content above 70% field capacity and utilizing the hot summer temperatures to heat the beds. Our studies have established baseline potential temperatures that can be achieved through soil solarization in Virginia climactic conditions. It would be best to employ a zebra mulch – a mulch that has a black color for bed shoulders and clear film for the bed top – for the soil solarization treatment to provide the most effective weed control. However, a challenge is that zebra mulch is currently available only for California bed dimensions (1.1 m wide bed top). Virginia strawberry bed tops typically are 0.7 m wide. We will continue to work on optimizing the efficacy of soil solarization by including other potential amendments.

Efforts are underway to evaluate local carbon sources for anaerobic soil disinfestation techniques (ASD) in mid-Atlantic climactic conditions. This is another fumigant alternative treatment that has now recently gained interest in the U.S. and practiced by some commercial growers in California and Florida. The basic method involves the addition of a labile carbon (C) source such as rice bran or poultry litter, to stimulate microbial growth and respiration, cover the C source with gas impermeable mulch to limit gas exchange, and irrigation to fill soil pore spaces with water. After the treatment is done, which typically lasts for three to five weeks, aerobic conditions are brought back into the soil beds when planting holes are made. Crops can be planted about 10 to 14 days after holes are made. My graduate student, Danyang Liu and I have conducted several greenhouse studies at the Southern Piedmont AREC in 2018 and 2019 with Dr. Charles Johnson and a field study was initiated at the Hampton Roads AREC in the 2018-19 growing season. The field study is currently being repeated at the Hampton Roads AREC in the 2019-20 growing season. Under greenhouse conditions, ASD treatments showed promise over untreated control containers for the control of weeds and pathogens. Further, the addition of distiller’s yeast to C sources provided similar or better weed and Pythium pathogen control than ASD treatments with C sources alone. Initial findings were published in International J. of Fruit Science (2020).

(ii)          Cultivar evaluation. Through on-farm replicated, randomized trials, my program has evaluated recently released strawberry cultivars that are new to Virginia, for adaptation to the different climatic zones of Virginia. We have identified ‘Camino Real’, ‘Flavorfest’, ‘Rocco’, ‘Ruby June’ and ‘Liz’ as being worthy of consideration for fruit growers in our region. Besides providing extension value to my program, the evaluation of strawberry cultivars has provided cultivar performance data for USDA growing zones 7 and 8. This data has supported the germplasm release of three strawberry cultivars, ‘Flavorfest’ released by USDA, Beltsville, MD and ‘Liz’ and ‘Rocco’ released by North Carolina State University. The cultivar descriptions are detailed in two HortScience articles led by Dr. Kim Lewers (2017) and Dr. Gina Fernandez (2020). On the extension front, my extension publications and presentations on cultivar evaluations have influenced the grower adoption of strawberry cultivars. As a result, most Virginia growers now grow 2 to 6 cultivars, reducing risks that come with relying on a single cultivar. For blackberry crop, my program has documented baseline data on yield, harvest period and post-harvest parameters of various blackberry cultivars that growers have been growing currently in Virginia. My Acta Horticulturae journal publication (2016) and extension publication HORT-226P provide additional details on these.

(iii)         Season extension. Tunnels can be used as a season extension tool for several horticultural crops, allowing the growers to gain early entry into the market, when berry prices are high, and when consumers are typically most excited about berry consumption and picking. There has been an increased interest in growing strawberries in high tunnels, due to increasing consumer demand for fresh, locally grown produce in North America. In addition to providing season extension, the high tunnel will increase shelf-life and berry quality as it keeps precipitation away from berries, reducing disease incidence. Similar to open-field cultivation there is a lack of information for strawberry cultivars that are suitable under high-tunnels. Through the initial work done in my program and supported by Lassen Canyon Nursery, California, we have identified two promising cultivars, ‘Ruby June’, and ‘Sweet Ann’, for high-tunnel production of strawberries. We have also identified key challenges of growing strawberries in high-tunnel. A recently funded USDA specialty crop block grant will further help us to determine whether high-tunnel production using annual hill plastic mulch production is a feasible production option for commercial strawberry growers.

(iv)         Supplementary nutrient application. Foliar and root-applied nutrient applications may prove to increase berry firmness and sugar content, thus improving the potential to ship berries long distances, and sell sweeter tasting berries at farm stands. Some Virginia berry growers have indicated usage of these supplementary foliar nutrients on-farm and have mentioned increased berry sweetness with these foliar applications. We initiated two studies in this research area with strawberry and blackberry crops. The work was supported by grants from USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant, the Virginia Agricultural Council, and industry sponsors. Our initial research has shown that for both strawberries and blackberries, there is no added advantage to applying supplementary nutrients over those plots that receive standard fertilizer recommendation doses followed by spring fertigation applications based on leaf nutrient tissue analysis.

My research pursuits broadly overlap with my extension focus. Additionally, I provide information on small fruit production to home and community gardeners particularly those living in geographic areas identified as food deserts. I also maintain a small fruit extension resource page and have recently initiated a facebook page that can be searched by typing "@VTHRARECSFP".


Select journal publications

Fernandez, G., J. Pattison, P. Perkins-Veazie, J. Ballington, E. Clevinger, R. Schiavone, S. Gu, J. Samtani, E. Vinson, and A. McWhirt. 2020. ‘Liz’ and ‘Rocco’ strawberries. HortScience 55:597-600.

Samtani, J.B., C.R. Rom, H. Friedrich, S.A. Fennimore, C.E. Finn, A. Petran, R.W. Wallace, M.P. Pritts, G. Fernandez, C. Chase, C. Kubota, and B. Bergefurd. 2019. The Status and Future of the Strawberry Industry in the United States. HortTechnology 29:11-24.

C. Shennan, J. Muramoto, S. Koike, G. Baird, S. Fennimore, J. Samtani, M. Bolda, S. Dara, O. Daugovish, G. Lazarovits, D. Butler, E. Rosskopf, N. Kokalis-Burrelle, K. Klonsky and M. Mazzola. 2018. Anaerobic soil disinfestation is a potential alternative to soil fumigation for control of some soil borne pathogens in strawberry production. Plant Pathol. doi:10.1111/ppa.12721.

Lewers, K., P. Castro, J. Enns, S.C. Hokanson, G.J. Galletta, D.T. Handley, A.R. Jamieson, M.J. Newell, J.B. Samtani, R.D. Flanagan, B.J. Smith, J.C. Snyder, J.G.Strang, S.R. Wright, and C. Weber 2017. 'Flavorfest' Strawberry. HortScience 52:1627-1632.

Samtani, J. B., J. Derr, M. Conway, and R. Flanagan. 2017. Evaluating Soil Solarization for Weed Control and Strawberry (Fragaria xananassa Duch.) Yield in Annual Plasticulture Production. Weed Technology 31(3), 455-463.

Conway M. and J.B. Samtani. 2016. Evaluation of Blackberry Cultivars in Virginia. Acta Horticulturae 1133:135-140. Proc. XI Int. Rubus and Ribes Symp. 

Samtani, J.B., J.E. Appleby, J.B. Masiunas. 2015. Comparative Leaf Phenology of White Oak and Northern Red Oak. Horticulturae 1:44-54.  

Samtani J.B., J.S. Rachuy, B. Mou, and S.A. Fennimore. 2014. Evaluation of Tribenuron-methyl on Sulfonylurea-Resistant Lettuce Germplasm. Weed Technology 28:510-517.

Milller, T.C., J. B. Samtani, and S.A. Fennimore. 2014. Mixing Steam with Soil Increases Heating Rate Compared to Steam Applied to Still Soil. Crop Protection 64:47-50.

Chen, Y., and J.B. Samtani. 2013. Workshop Introduction: Good Genes from Asia – Contributions and Opportunities of Asiatic Origin Crops to U.S. Horticulture. HortScience 48:1072.

Fennimore, S., R. Serohijos, J. Samtani, H. Ajwa, K Subbarao, F. Martin, O. Daugovish, D. Legard, G. Browne, J. Muramoto, C. Shennan and K. Klonsky. 2013. TIF film, substrates and nonfumigant soil disinfestation maintain fruit yields. California Agriculture 67: 139-146.

Rainbolt, C.M., J.B. Samtani, S.A. Fennimore, C. Gilbert, K.V. Subbarao, J.S. Gerik, A. Shrestha, and B. Hanson. 2013. Steam as a Preplant Soil Disinfestant Tool in California Cut-flower Production. HortTechnology 23:207-214. 

Samtani, J.B., J.B. Weber, and S.A. Fennimore. 2012. Tolerance of strawberry cultivars to oxyfluorfen and flumioxazin herbicides. HortScience 47: 848-851.

Samtani, J.B., C. Gilbert, J. Ben Weber, K.V. Subbarao, R.E. Goodhue, and S.A. Fennimore. 2012. Effect of Steam and Solarization Treatments on Pest Control, Strawberry Yield, and Economic Returns Relative to Methyl Bromide Fumigation. HortScience 47:64-70. 

Samtani, J.B., H. A. Ajwa, J.B. Weber, G.T. Browne, S. Klose, J. Hunzie, and S.A. Fennimore. 2011. Evaluation of non-fumigant alternatives to methyl bromide for weed control and crop yield in California strawberries (Fragaria ananassa L.). Crop Protection 30:45-51.  

Samtani, J.B., H.A. Ajwa, R.E. Goodhue, O. Daugovish, Z. Kabir, and S.A. Fennimore. 2010. Weed Control Efficacy and Economics of 1,3-Dichloropropene and Chloropicrin Applied at Reduced Rates under Impermeable Film in Strawberry Beds. HortScience 45:1841-1847.

Samtani, J.B., J.B. Masiunas, and J.E. Appleby. 2010. White Oak and Northern Red Oak Leaf Injury from Exposure to Chloroacetanilide Herbicides. HortScience 45:696-700.  

Samtani, J.B., J.B. Masiunas, and J.E. Appleby. 2008. Injury on White Oak Seedlings from Herbicide Exposure Simulating Drift. HortScience 43:2076-2080.

Samtani, J.B., G.J. Kling, H.M. Mathers, and L. Case. 2007. Rice hulls, Leaf-waste Pellets and Pine Bark as Herbicide Carriers for Container-grown Woody Ornamentals. HortTechnology17:289-295.

Book chapters

S.A. Fennimore, B.D. Hanson, L.M. Sosnoskie, J.B. Samtani, A. Datta, S.Z. Knezevic, M.C. Siemens. 2014. Automation Field Applications of Automated Weed Control: Western Hemisphere. In Automation: the future of weed control in cropping systems. Ed. Stephen Young and Francis Pierce. Pp. 151-169.

Samtani, Jayesh B., Reza Rafie, Tony Wolf and Keith Yoder. 2015. "Fruits in the Home Garden", pp. 413-442. Master Gardener Handbook: A Guide to Gardening in Virginia. Publication no. 426-600.

Select extension publications

Christman, J. and J.B. Samtani. 2019. A Survey of Strawberry Production Practices in Virginia. SPES-150P.

Samtani, J.B. and G. M. Milteer. 2019. Supermarkets as alternative market for Virginia grown berries. SPES-121 NP. 

Samtani, J.B. 2018. Frost/freeze protection in strawberry. Virginia Cooperative Extension Publication. SPES 56-NP.

Samtani, J.B. and J.F. Derr. 2018. Weed management in small fruit crops. HORT 286-NP.

Arancibia, R.A., C, Cahoon, T. Kuhar, D.B. Langston, J. A. Parkhurst, M.S Reiter, S.L.Rideout, J. Samtani, A. Straw, L.K. Strawn. 2018. Mid-Atlantic Commercial Vegetable Production Recommendations. Virginia Cooperative Extension Publication 456-420

Samtani, J.B., C. Johnson, R. Flanagan III, K. Starke, B. Poling, and R. Martin. 2017. Mixed infection of strawberry mottle virus and strawberry mild yellow edge virus in the Southeastern United States. Virginia Cooperative Extension Publication. HORT 268P.

Landis, Z, and J.B. Samtani. 2017. Shoppers Guide for Berry Plants in the Mid-Atlantic and the Carolinas. Virginia Cooperative Extension Publication. HORT 270-NP.

Conway, M.A. and J.B. Samtani. 2016. Evaluation of Blackberry Varieties in Virginia. Virginia Cooperative Extension Publication HORT-226P.

Samtani, J. B., R. Rafie, and T. Wolf. 2016. Small Fruits in the Home Garden. Virginia Cooperative Extension Publication 426-840.

Samtani, J. B. and M. Kushad. 2015. A Longer Marketing Life for Blackberry and Raspberry Fruit. Virginia Cooperative Extension Publication 423-701. 

Fennimore, S., O. Daugovish, H. Ajwa, J. Samtani, M. Othman, K. Subbarao, J. Hunzie, J. Weber, , J. Rachuy, and F. Martin. 2012. Fumigant and Non-fumigant Strategies for Control of Soil Pests In Strawberry. California Strawberry Commission, Annual Production Research Report 2010-11. Pp. 91-97.

Fennimore, S., O. Daugovish, H. Ajwa, J. Samtani, M. Othman, K. Subbarao, J. Hunzie, J. Weber, J. Rachuy, and F. Martin. 2012. Weed Management in Strawberry. California Strawberry Commission, Annual Production Research Report 2010-11. Pp. 83-88.

Fennimore, S., O. Daugovish, H. Ajwa, J. Samtani, J. Weber, J. Rachuy, and G. Browne. 2011. Weed Management in Strawberry. California Strawberry Commission, Annual Production Research Report 2009-10. Pp. 123-133.

Current Graduate Students

Danyang Liu Ph.D. Student

Current Laboratory Staff

Dr. Aman Rana Research Specialist
John Christman Research Intern