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Jayesh Samtani

Associate Professor and Small Fruit Extension Specialist

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

Jayesh Samtani
Hampton Roads AREC, Virginia Tech
1444 Diamond Springs Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23455


  • 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.


  • Associate Professor and Small Fruit Extension Specialist, Virginia Tech (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).


  • 2022    Outstanding Education Materials (i) Leaflet and (ii) Webinar Award, American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS), Extension Division, for Virginia Cooperative Extension Publication, SPES-272P- A Longer Marketing Life for Blackberry and Raspberry Fruit and 2021 Southeastern Strawberry School, respectively.
  • Outstanding Extension Materials Award, Leaflet category for SPES-150-P 'A Survey of Strawberry Production Practices in Virginia'. 2020. American Society for Horticultural Science, Extension Division.
  • Outstanding Extension Materials Award, Newsletter category for Virginia Strawberry Association News. 2020. American Society for Horticultural Science, Extension Division.
  • Outstanding Extension Materials Award, Leaflet category for Extension pub. HORT 268-P. 2019. American Society for Horticultural Science, Extension Division.
  • Team State Award, Virginia Strawberry Association Newsletter, by Virginia Association of Extension Ag. Agents, 2017.
  • Third Prize, Poster Award in Applied Research Category, Virginia Cooperative Extension Annual Conference, 2019.
  • Graduate Student Teaching Award, North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture, 2007.
  • Cited for teaching excellence in the list of campus-wide Teaching Assistants at the University of Illinois for the laboratory component of the course ‘Home Vegetable Gardening’ for fall 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007; Spring 2006 and spring 2007. The qualification requirement for this list is an overall instructor rating of 4.5 or above out of 5.0 by students. 

The mission of my research and extension program is to yield sustainable and economically viable solutions for berry production, and to recommend practices that improve agritourism experiences for growers and consumers. Specifically, my efforts focus on (i) biofumigation for soil disinfestation, (ii) cultivar evaluation, (iii) extending harvest season, and (iv) supplementary nutrient application.


Biofumigation for soil disinfestation. My research and extension efforts align well with USDA’s priority with Methyl Bromide Transition Program. Due to human health issues with existing and previously used fumigants, the EPA, USDA and state regulatory authorities place stringent regulations on their use. These regulations include completing an extensive fumigation management plan prior to application, notifying neighbors in advance of grower’s plan to fumigate, and leaving untreated buffer areas in grower fields. With increasing urbanization in the state of Virginia and in many other states of the U.S. and with challenges facing fumigation, I feel it is important for me to evaluate non-fumigant approaches for soil disinfestation. My program has documented baseline potential temperatures that can be achieved through soil solarization in Virginia’s climatic conditions (Samtani et al., 2017). Soil solarization involves covering the planting beds with impermeable clear polyethylene mulch and utilizing the hot summer temperatures to heat the beds before planting. The soil is kept moist during the treatment period as water helps in the conduction of heat. This study provides future directions to my program for integrating soil solarization with other bio-amendments and herbicides which could offer viable solutions to growers who do not wish to fumigate or are wanting to disinfest buffer areas.


Anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) is another treatment that has now recently gained interest in the U.S. It is currently practiced by some commercial growers in California and Florida and overseas in Japan and the Netherlands. The basic method involves the incorporation of a labile carbon (C) source such as rice bran to stimulate microbial growth and respiration, then covering the C source with a gas impermeable mulch to limit gas exchange, and then saturating the treated soil via irrigation. After three to five weeks of treatment, 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 program has conducted several greenhouse studies evaluating several C sources for their potential use in ASD followed by a two-year field study at the Hampton Roads AREC to conclude that brewer’s spent grain could be used as a C source for ASD. Under greenhouse conditions, ASD treatments showed promise over non-treated control containers for the control of inoculated weeds and pathogens. Further, our research results showed that 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 (Liu et al., 2020). 


Cultivar evaluation. Attention to flavor, extended post-harvest life and tolerance to disease and rain events in the field are important fruit traits for the success of berry industry in Virginia. My research (Flanagan et al., 2020) and several outreach presentations on this topic have influenced grower adoption of new strawberry cultivars. We have identified ‘Camino Real’, ‘Flavorfest’, ‘Rocco’, ‘Ruby June’ and ‘Liz’ as being worthy of consideration for fruit production in Virginia. Most Virginia growers now grow 2 to 6 cultivars, reducing risks from relying on a single cultivar. Besides providing extension value to my program, the strawberry cultivar evaluation data we collected in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 7 and 8 have supported the release of three strawberry cultivars, ‘Flavorfest’ released by USDA, Beltsville, MD, (Lewers et al., 2017) and ‘Liz’ and ‘Rocco’ released by North Carolina State University (Fernandez et al., 2020). My efforts have also contributed to a rise in commercial sales of new cultivars.  We anticipate that the inclusion of additional cultivars at the farm level will contribute positively to the $10 million Virginia strawberry industry. The cultivar data generated in Virginia also helps in the decision-making for growers in other states in the south-Atlantic and mid-South regions of the U.S. 

Harvest season extension. High tunnels are plastic-covered semi-permanent structures that can be used as a season extension tool for several horticultural crops, allowing the growers to gain early entry into the market. Consumers are excited about pick-your-own berries earlier in the season as compared to later. Virginia`s climate limits the open-field strawberry crop to one season which spans 4 to 6 weeks per year. The use of high tunnels could extend the harvest season earlier by another 4 weeks. In addition, the high tunnel can increase berry quality by keeping fruits sheltered from rain and plants from extreme cold temperatures during the winter season. No prior work has been done on strawberry cultivars that are suitable under high tunnels for Virginia. My program with support from Lassen Canyon Nursery has identified two cultivars, ‘Ruby June’, and ‘Sweet Ann’, suitable for high tunnel strawberry production. Alongside, we have also identified key challenges of growing strawberries in high tunnel (Das and Samtani, 2021). A 2019 funded USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant is helping my program to determine whether using high tunnel is a feasible production option for commercial strawberry growers.

Supplementary nutrition. Some Virginia berry growers have tried applications of supplementary foliar nutrients on berry plants and have reported increased fruit sweetness and firmness resulting from these foliar applications. There is limited research done in this area on berry crops. 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. 

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/twitter feed that can be searched by typing  "@VTBerryBITES". 


Select journal publications

Cosseboom, S.D., A. Schoeneberg, J. D. Lea-Cox, J. Samtani, C.S. Johnson, and M. Hu. 2023. Impact of floating row cover and sensor placement on strawberry anthracnose and Botrytis fruit rot risk assessment.  Plant Pathology 72(4): 819-828.

Mbarushimana, J.C., D. J. Bosch, and J. B. Samtani. 2022. An Economic Comparison of High Tunnel and Open-Field Strawberry Production in Southeastern Virginia. Horticulturae 8.12: 1139.

McCullough, C., H. Grab, G. Angelella,  S. Karpanty, J. Samtani, E. Olimpi, and M. O’Rourke 2022. Diverse landscapes but not wildflower plantings increase marketable crop yield. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 339:108120

Mei, C., B.S. Amaradasa, R. L. Chretien, D. Liu, G. Snead, J. Samtani, and S.Lowman 2021. A potential application of endophytic bacteria in strawberryproduction. Horticulturae 7(11). doi:10.3390/horticulturae7110504

Flanagan, R. D., J.B. Samtani, M. Manchester, S. Romelczyk, C.S. Johnson, W.Lawrence, and J. Pattison. 2020. On-farm evaluation of strawberry cultivars in Coastal Virginia. HortTechnology 30:789-796.

Samtani, J., S. Das, and J. Rajevich. 2020. Evaluating supplementary nutrients toimprove strawberry fruit quality and yield. International Journal of Fruit Science,20:1029-1038.

Liu,D., J. Samtani, C. Johnson, D. Butler, and J. Derr. 2020. Weed controlassessment of various carbon sources for anaerobic soil disinfestation. International Journal of Fruit Science, 20:1005-1018.

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. 

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.

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.

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

Moore, C.,  S. Gonzales, and J.B. Samtani. 2023. Shoppers Guide for Berry Plants in the Mid-Atlantic and the Carolinas. Virginia Cooperative Extension Publication. HORT 270-NP.

Manchester, M., and J. Samtani. 2022. Evaluation of blackberry varieties in Virginia. Virginia Cooperative Extension Publication, SPES-400P.

Reiter, M., J. Samtani, E. Torres-Quezada, V. Singh, H. Doughty,  T. Kuhar,  K. Sutton,  J. Wilson, D.B. Langston, J. A. Parkhurst,  S.L.Rideout, L.K. Strawn. 2022. 2022-2023 Mid-Atlantic Commercial Vegetable Production Recommendations. Virginia Cooperative Extension Publication 456-420

Samtani, J., R. Rafie, and T. Wolf. 2022. Small fruits in the home garden. Virginia Cooperative Extension Publication, SPES-399P.

Xu T., Y. Yin, and J. Samtani. 2022. Blackberry fruit: nutrition facts and health benefits, Virginia Cooperative Extension Publication, SPES-366P.

S. Das and J. Samtani. 2021.Strawberry variety evaluation, opportunities, and challenges of high tunnel production. Virginia Cooperative Extension Publication, SPES-273P.

Samtani J., and M. Kushad. 2020. A longer marketing life for blackberry and raspberry fruit. Virginia Cooperative Extension Publication, SPES 272-P.

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.

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.







Current Graduate Students

Baker Aljawasim

Ph.D. Student

Enrique Hernandez OMALS student

Current Laboratory Staff

Patricia Richardson

Research Specialist

Abigail Craige Research Intern
Gabriel Kwesi Yeboah Visiting Ph.D. Scholar