University of Georgia Extension reminds strawberry growers that now is the time tissue sample their strawberry plants.
Jeff Cook, University of Georgia (UGA) Cooperative Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources agent for Peach and Taylor counties, reported in the UGA Extension Strawberry Blog that tissue sampling is the best way to determine if plants have the nutrients they need to produce acceptable yields. Sampling can also save producers money and reduce excess fertilization, while also finding nutrient deficiencies.
Growers should sample tissue on the youngest fully expanded leaves. These leaves will be found in the middle of the canopy. Producers should not sample leaves that have spider mites or disease. Sampling now provides the most important information to determine boron (B) levels.
Boron is vital for good pollen production, seed formation and fruit set. Sampling now allows for applications through fertigation which is the recommended method and timing. Applications during or after bloom have little to no effect on fruit set. Boron levels should be between 30 and 50 ppm (parts per million).
Early sampling also helps determine how efficient a grower’s pre-plant fertilizers were. Winter fertilizer applications are not generally made, however if nutrients levels in plants are low, it is better to correct them while crowns are being produced. Deficiencies in nutrients like phosphorous can lead to poorly developed roots, stunted plants and reduced yields.
Cook also reminds growers to scout their fields for mites. Freezing weather may have slowed down mites, but it did not kill them. Growers need to strive to be mite free by March. If mite populations are low starting in March, growers can avoid applications of miticides during the season. For any help with strawberries or other crops, contact your County Agent.