SALINAS, CA--In the coastal valleys of central California, where more than 80% of the United States' strawberry crops are grown, there is developing concern about the impact of these vast production systems on groundwater contamination. According to a study published in the August 2013 issue of HortScience, changes in growers' cultural practices and the introduction of new cultivars has increased strawberry yields in the region by 140% during the past 50 years. But as crop yields have increased, water quality has diminished; water quality monitoring in these coastal valleys has shown that groundwater often exceeds Federal drinking water standards. Strawberry growers are facing increasing regulatory pressure to improve their management practices in order to protect groundwater.
Looking for ways to help strawberry producers address these critical issues, Thomas Bottoms and Timothy Hartz from the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California, Davis, along with Michael Cahn and Barry Farrara of the University of California Cooperative Extension in Salinas, studied nitrogen (N) fertilization and irrigation management practices in fall-planted annual strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa Duch.) fields. Their multidimensional research was designed to determine soil mineral nitrogen, monitor irrigation applied, and estimate crop evapotranspiration. They also surveyed growers regarding their nitrogen (N) fertilization practices. "Our primary objective was to document plant and soil nitrogen dynamics (in annual strawberry production) under the environmental conditions and current grower management practices of the central coast region of California," said corresponding author Timothy Hartz. "Additionally, we evaluated strawberry response to preplant controlled-release fertilizer (CRF) application rates in three commercial field trials."
The researchers determined that strawberry biomass nitrogen accumulation showed a consistent pattern a
|Contact: Mike W. Neff|
American Society for Horticultural Science