N’Synchronicity Pays

Strawberry Stewardship

There’s an old saying that nothing breeds success like success. But that can be taken too far. Tim Hartz, a University of California (UC) Cooperative Extension specialist, says that growers can become too complacent. For example, Hartz, who works in the Department of Vegetable Crops at UC-Davis, says many of the state’s strawberry growers put down a standard NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium) fertilizer without giving it too much thought.

“A lot of guys say ‘That’s what my dad used, and it worked great.’ Fine, all I’m saying is think it through, do the testing, and determine what you really need,” he says. “Have a soil test done and think about what that site requires, not what you’ve done historically.”

Hartz makes the recommendation based on a series of nutrient trials conducted in 2010 in the heavy strawberry production areas of the state’s central coast. A team of researchers surveyed 26 fields in the Watsonville-Salinas and Santa Maria areas to revise tissue sampling nutrient standards on the Albion strawberry variety. In addition, they monitored the irrigation and fertility practices in 14 additional fields in the Watsonville-Salinas area. The results were clear. Many growers were wasting too much preplant fertilizer.

“If you’re using a preplant, the minute you put it down in the moist bed it will start to release, but it’s not being used,” he says. “We’re seeing too much fertilizer being released when the crop can’t use it, especially like last year when we had a wet winter. The crop uptake doesn’t start in earnest until February or March, but you applied it several months earlier.”

Times Have Changed
Some factors have changed since today’s growers’ dads were in charge, says Hartz. For example, it used to be that everyone fumigated with methyl bromide, and you didn’t have to build your beds so early. In addition, he speculates that older fertilizers may have been developed in warmer areas such as southern California, where fruit is present in January. In those warmer climates, you want the nutrients available in January.

What growers need to keep in mind is that strawberries are incredibly predictable when it comes to nutrient uptake. They take up 1 pound of N per day, per acre when they begin to really get going, which is in later February or early March in the coastal areas of central California. The researchers ran those calculations in eight or nine fields, and that number stayed amazingly consistent, ranging from a low of 0.9 pounds per acre per day to a high of 1.2.

Growers should adjust their fertilizer amounts and times accordingly. If well water is high in nitrates, adjust for that. Or if the soil is rich in organic matter, account for that. Just make sure there is a minimum of 1 pound per acre per day available. “There shouldn’t be a need for large dollops of fertilizer because that need is relatively modest and quite consistent,” says Hartz.

It’s a far cry from vegetable crops such as lettuce. When lettuce first starts getting going, it needs almost no N. But then it hits a certain point, and for a month it will take up 3 to 4 pounds per acre per day. “The berry is more like the tortoise,” says Hartz, “the vegetable is more like the hare.”

 

 

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
the sunset on a hot day
Citrus
January 18, 2017
NASA, NOAA Concur 2016 Was World’s Warmest Year on Record
For the third time in three years, the bar is raised on surface temperature statistics. Read More
Vegetables
January 18, 2017
Southwest Growers Are Best Prepared for Succession
Almost half of all Southwest operations are grooming its next generation of leadership — an alarmingly low statistic, but one that is the highest in the country, according to American Vegetable Grower magazine's 2017 State of the Vegetable Industry survey. Read More
Vegetables
January 18, 2017
The Midwest Is Nurturing the Next Generation of Operations
It has more young businesses, percentage wise, than other regions: 39% of responding businesses are less than 10 years old. Read More
Vegetables
January 18, 2017
The West Had the Highest Increase in U.S. Vegetable Production in 2016
The West not only has the largest vegetable operations, it also saw the strongest growth in production in the U.S., according to American Vegetable Grower magazine's 2017 State of the Vegetable Industry survey. Read More
Vegetables
January 18, 2017
One in Five Southeast Growers Use H-2A
American Vegetable Grower magazine's 2017 State of the Vegetable Industry survey revealed quite a few qualities about the Southeast that may surprise you, including it being more likely to use H-2A than other regions. Read More
Vegetables
January 18, 2017
The 2016 Drought Is Having a Big Impact on Northeast Growers
The 2017 State of the Vegetable Industry gave us insight into each region of the U.S. Sifting through the data, we flagged those responses that were markedly higher or lower than other regions. Responses from Northeast growers made it clear that the 2016 drought had taken a toll. Read More
GenNext Growers
January 18, 2017
$858,000 in Grants to Encourage Careers in Agriculture Science
Funding to invest in programs that educate, promote science in the classroom. Read More
Vegetables
January 18, 2017
Mississippi Greenhouse Tomato Short Course Registration Is Now Open
Online registration is now open for the Greenhouse Tomato Short Course, which takes place March 7-8 in Raymond, MS. This Read More
Fruits
January 18, 2017
Spotted Wing Drosophila Control the Topic of Webinar
Research updates, recommendations to be presented on devastating pest. Read More
'Gold nugget' seedless tangerine
Varieties & Rootstocks
January 18, 2017
5 Florida Citrus Nursery Trends Worth Watching
Gleanings from recent grower gatherings expose opportunities and possibilities in new variety development and management. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
January 18, 2017
NASA, NOAA Concur 2016 Was World’s Warme…
For the third time in three years, the bar is raised on surface temperature statistics. Read More
Vegetables
January 18, 2017
Southwest Growers Are Best Prepared for …
Almost half of all Southwest operations are grooming its next generation of leadership — an alarmingly low statistic, but one that is the highest in the country, according to American Vegetable Grower magazine's 2017 State of the Vegetable Industry survey. Read More
Vegetables
January 18, 2017
The Midwest Is Nurturing the Next Genera…
It has more young businesses, percentage wise, than other regions: 39% of responding businesses are less than 10 years old. Read More
Vegetables
January 18, 2017
The West Had the Highest Increase in U.S…
The West not only has the largest vegetable operations, it also saw the strongest growth in production in the U.S., according to American Vegetable Grower magazine's 2017 State of the Vegetable Industry survey. Read More
Vegetables
January 18, 2017
One in Five Southeast Growers Use H-2A
American Vegetable Grower magazine's 2017 State of the Vegetable Industry survey revealed quite a few qualities about the Southeast that may surprise you, including it being more likely to use H-2A than other regions. Read More
Vegetables
January 18, 2017
The 2016 Drought Is Having a Big Impact …
The 2017 State of the Vegetable Industry gave us insight into each region of the U.S. Sifting through the data, we flagged those responses that were markedly higher or lower than other regions. Responses from Northeast growers made it clear that the 2016 drought had taken a toll. Read More
GenNext Growers
January 18, 2017
$858,000 in Grants to Encourage Careers …
Funding to invest in programs that educate, promote science in the classroom. Read More
Vegetables
January 18, 2017
Mississippi Greenhouse Tomato Short Cour…
Online registration is now open for the Greenhouse Tomato Short Course, which takes place March 7-8 in Raymond, MS. This Read More
Fruits
January 18, 2017
Spotted Wing Drosophila Control the Topi…
Research updates, recommendations to be presented on devastating pest. Read More
Varieties & Rootstocks
January 18, 2017
5 Florida Citrus Nursery Trends Worth Wa…
Gleanings from recent grower gatherings expose opportunities and possibilities in new variety development and management. Read More
GenNext Growers
January 17, 2017
9 Financial Resolutions to Boost Your Fa…
If a goal for the new year includes increasing profitability, there are ways you can better manage your business. Read More
Farm Management
January 17, 2017
Will Big Data Yield Big Returns for Farm…
Modern tools of hort tech are ripe to inspire the next generation of productivity and profitability. Read More
Citrus
January 17, 2017
The Future of Agriculture is in Your Han…
Can farmers actually reach the point of having too much information? Read More
Equipment
January 17, 2017
Agricultural Robots No Longer Science Fi…
New automated technologies could help specialty crop growers deal with labor crisis. Read More
Citrus
January 16, 2017
First Bee in Continental U.S. Listed as …
Rusty patched bumble bee receives protection from activities that could cause it to go extinct. Read More
Fruits
January 16, 2017
Pollination Experts Host Webinar Series
Fruit and vegetable growers can prepare for spring by hearing about recent pollination research. Read More
Citrus
January 16, 2017
Precision Agriculture and Big Data Gaini…
Specialty crop adoption of hort tech to usher in new efficiencies and transparency. Read More
Crop Protection
January 16, 2017
Monsanto, NRGene Enter Agreement for Big…
Technology platform is designed to help Monsanto analyze, store, and mine its genomic data sets to enhance breeding and R&D opportunities. Read More