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New research informs California strawberry production practices
Date:10/21/2013

cross fields with limited N accumulation from fall transplanting through March, followed by a consistent rate of crop N uptake through the rest of the production season. "Our research determined that current nitrogen fertilization practices did not efficiently match the crop N uptake pattern observed," Hartz said. He explained that in California's central coastal region, most strawberry fields are planted after vegetable crops. "These fields typically have significant residual soil mineral nitrogen. Therefore, justification for preplant controlled-release fertilizer (CRF) in this production system appeared to be to ensure N availability throughout the winter, when NO3-N leaching by rainfall is possible. However, the replicated trials showed that preplant CRF rates had a minimal effect on strawberry nitrogen accumulation through the June sampling, by which time the vast majority of controlled-release fertilizer nitrogen had been released."

The researchers' evaluation of irrigation practices showed that efficient drip irrigation management was demonstrated in many fields. "In only one of the nine highest-yielding fields was seasonal irrigation more than 120% of evapotranspiration. The consistency of crop N uptake over the spring and summer provided a guideline for N fertigation. Adjusting for higher fruit yield potential under California conditions, this supports prior research that found N fertigation averaging 0.5 to 0.9 kg/ha per day to be adequate for peak production."

"Our results suggest several ways in which N management could be improved in this production system," the authors wrote. "The replicated controlled-release fertilizer (CRF) rate trials indicated that routine use of high CRF rates was not an efficient practice. Reducing CRF rates, particularly in heavier textured soils that are less easily leached, could substantially improve N use efficiency."


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Contact: Mike W. Neff
mwneff@ashs.org
703-836-4606
American Society for Horticultural Science
Source:Eurekalert

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