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
FruitsRegistration Is Open For 2015 International Fruit Tree Association’s Study Tour In Washington
May 26, 2015
Registration is now open for the International Fruit Tree Association’s (IFTA) 2015 Regional Study Tour. This registration includes hotel accommodations Read More
Stone FruitEarly Cherry Harvest In Pacific Northwest
May 26, 2015
Cherry harvest is off to an early start in the Pacific Northwest reports the Tri-City Herald thanks to a warmer-than-average Read More
FruitsCalifornia’s Delta Growers To Cut Water Use By 25%
May 26, 2015
The California State Water Resources Control Board have approved a proposal from riparian water right holders in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Read More
CitrusSenate OKs Trade Priorities And Accountability Act
May 26, 2015
Late on the evening of Friday, May 22, the U.S. Senate approved the Trade Priorities And Accountability Act (TPA) of Read More
Apples & PearsSolve Your Labor Problems From Within
May 26, 2015
Summer is here, which means harvest season is just around the corner. Hopefully you’ll have the crews you need this Read More
FruitsWater Conservation Grants Awarded In Pacific Northwest
May 26, 2015
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has awarded 17 Water Conservation Field Services Program (WCFSP) grants in the Pacific Northwest Region, Read More
Disease ControlPartnerships Key To Healthy Northwest Vines
May 26, 2015
Washington’s grape industry has seen accelerating growth over the past several decades. That momentum is owed, in part, to the Read More
Apples & PearsSounding Off On Record Purchase Of Apples
May 26, 2015
Recently USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service announced the purchase of 34.9 million pounds of fresh apples and 16.1 million pounds of Read More
Disease ControlInland Desert Nursery Is Main Source For Washington’s Clean Vines
May 26, 2015
The Judkins family has been in the business of clean grapevines for more than 40 years. Today, their Inland Desert Read More
Operation Outdoor Freedom participants
CitrusFlorida Proud To Be Home Of The Brave [Opinion]
May 25, 2015
Operation Outdoor Freedom invites wounded service members and veterans of the U.S. military to enjoy recreational activities in state forests and on private lands. Read More
The Latest
FruitsRegistration Is Open For 2015 International Fruit Tree …
May 26, 2015
Registration is now open for the International Fruit Tree Association’s (IFTA) 2015 Regional Study Tour. This registration includes hotel accommodations Read More
Stone FruitEarly Cherry Harvest In Pacific Northwest
May 26, 2015
Cherry harvest is off to an early start in the Pacific Northwest reports the Tri-City Herald thanks to a warmer-than-average Read More
FruitsCalifornia’s Delta Growers To Cut Water Use By 25%
May 26, 2015
The California State Water Resources Control Board have approved a proposal from riparian water right holders in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Read More
CitrusSenate OKs Trade Priorities And Accountability Act
May 26, 2015
Late on the evening of Friday, May 22, the U.S. Senate approved the Trade Priorities And Accountability Act (TPA) of Read More
Apples & PearsSolve Your Labor Problems From Within
May 26, 2015
Summer is here, which means harvest season is just around the corner. Hopefully you’ll have the crews you need this Read More
FruitsWater Conservation Grants Awarded In Pacific Northwest
May 26, 2015
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has awarded 17 Water Conservation Field Services Program (WCFSP) grants in the Pacific Northwest Region, Read More
Disease ControlPartnerships Key To Healthy Northwest Vines
May 26, 2015
Washington’s grape industry has seen accelerating growth over the past several decades. That momentum is owed, in part, to the Read More
Apples & PearsSounding Off On Record Purchase Of Apples
May 26, 2015
Recently USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service announced the purchase of 34.9 million pounds of fresh apples and 16.1 million pounds of Read More
Disease ControlInland Desert Nursery Is Main Source For WashingtonR…
May 26, 2015
The Judkins family has been in the business of clean grapevines for more than 40 years. Today, their Inland Desert Read More
Operation Outdoor Freedom participants
CitrusFlorida Proud To Be Home Of The Brave [Opinion]
May 25, 2015
Operation Outdoor Freedom invites wounded service members and veterans of the U.S. military to enjoy recreational activities in state forests and on private lands. Read More
OrganicDavid Peri of Peri & Sons Receives Outstanding Agri…
May 22, 2015
David Peri, president of Peri & Sons Farms, has been named the 2015 Nevada Outstanding Agriculturalist Award by the University Read More
FruitsQ&A With Penn State’s New Young Grower Alliance Coo…
May 22, 2015
Erin Dugan recently joined Penn State University extension as a specialty crop innovations program manager and Young Grower Alliance coordinator. Read More
FruitsHow To Start A Young Grower Association
May 22, 2015
You have recently returned to your family’s business. You have friends and family you can tap for their knowledge and Read More
Tomato bug
Insect ControlStop Tomato Bugs From Sucking Your Crops Dry
May 21, 2015
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods of this vegetable pest. Read More
UF/IFAS developmental biologist Dennis Gray looks at the progress of grapevines in a vineyard.
Crop ProtectionResearcher Using ‘Precision Breeding’ To Cr…
May 20, 2015
Breakthrough would mean significant savings on pesticide and fungicide sprays. Read More
Spraying indoor citrus
Protected AgricultureInterest Continues To Grow In Protected Citriculture
May 20, 2015
Inside move could put producers in prime scoring position. Read More
Expansion groundbreaking for Southwest Florida Research and Education Center
CitrusSouthwest Florida Research And Education Center Embraci…
May 20, 2015
A 7,000-square-foot addition to the UF/IFAS facility will house labs and offices for potential new faculty members. Read More
storm clouds
CitrusSouth Florida Rainy Season Could Wind Up On Drier Side
May 20, 2015
National Weather Service anticipating El Niño to play a hand in possible below-normal conditions. Read More