How to fertilize your strawberry plants now for a full harvest next spring It’s the middle of August and most of us are not thinking about our strawberry plants, but you should be! It’s time to fertilize. As you may recall, we planted a new strawberry bed this past spring.
- I’m happy to report that the strawberries have been sending out runners (they are also called daughter plants) and are growing well.
- Periodically, I see the girls looking under the leaves for strawberries.
- I remind them that we have to wait until spring.
- How disappointed they would be if there were no strawberries after waiting all of this time.
Since I am a mom who doesn’t like to disappoint, we are going to fertilize. As the days get shorter and cooler, strawberry plants develop their fruit buds for next year’s crop. To maximize this growth, it’s important for the soil to have an adequate amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Just like when my daughter was getting ready for a t-ball game on a hot summer evening, I knew she would need carbohydrates and plenty of water to get her through the game. I realize it’s just t-ball, but I didn’t want her to run out of steam before the game was over.
- Fertilizing in August provides the essential nutrients my prized strawberry plants need to grow the fruit buds that produce mouth-watering strawberries next June.
- Specifically, strawberry plants rely heavily on nitrogen.
- You can use a fertilizer containing only nitrogen such as urea (46-0-0) or ammonium nitrate (33-0-0).
Another option is to use a balanced fertilizer such as a 12-12-12. To get the fertilizer in the soil, where the roots can absorb the nutrients, I gently break up the ground with a hoe and make a trench. Once the trench is made, I put the fertilizer in the trench and then cover it up with soil.
- 0.1 What nutrient do strawberries need the most?
- 0.2 3 INGREDIENTS for the BEST STRAWBERRIES – the Definitive Organic Fertilizing Guide
- 0.3 Is tomato Fertiliser good for strawberries?
- 0.4 What is the best organic fertilizer for strawberries?
- 0.5 How can I make nitrogen rich fertilizer at home?
- 1 Which fertilizer makes a fruit sweet?
What nutrient do strawberries need the most?
4.3 Plant nutrients, deficiency symptoms, and application rates and methods – Nitrogen (N) Nitrogen is the central component of all amino acids, which are the building blocks of all proteins and include, of course, all functional enzymes. Nitrogen is a highly important plant nutrient, which substantially affects quality and yield of strawberries. The plant quickly responds to every positive or negative change in its nitrogen status. Application of nitrogen fertilizers stimulates vegetative growth of leaves, petioles, and shoots. Heavy applications are not recommended because excessive vegetative growth will result in dense leaf canopy that will cover developing fruit, keeping it in a dark, cool and wet microclimate, and enhance the development of fruit rot diseases, such as gray mold. Excessive nitrogen causes fruit softening, which results in easily-damaged strawberries, delayed ripening, decreased yield, and increased powdery mildew and mite pressure. Nitrogen deficiency is manifested (and consequently visualized more easily) in middle-aged leaves. The yellow strawberry plant leaves occur primarily at middle age, and not when the plant is young, when the new, still-green leaves emerge from the crown. The young leaves emerging from the crown exacerbate the deficient state of the middle-aged leaves by being a stronger sink for the nitrogen that would otherwise have been used in the older leaves. Due to the demand of metabolism and synthesis of the newly emerging foliage, nitrogen will be mobilized from the middle-aged leaves to the new ones. This leads to more severe color changes in the middle-aged leaves, depending on the overall severity of the nitrogen shortage. Plants with mild N deficiency (N<2.0%) have smaller than usual chlorotic older leaves. Slight nitrogen deficiency on a young leaf (right) Advanced nitrogen deficiency on young mature leaves More severe deficiencies cause shortening of the petioles, which turn red-purple and become brittle. The purple strawberry leaves are attributed to nitrogen and amino acid deficiency (see Figure 4.3). Severe nitrogen deficiency on a single leaf Severe nitrogen deficiency in the field Figure 4.4: Nitrogen deficiency – red calyx Nitrogen application The nitrogen available to plants in the soil occurs in two forms: nitrate (NO 3 -) and ammonium (NH 4 + ). Nitrate is the preferred form for uptake by the plant. It is readily available for use and simple for the plant to metabolize, so nitrate share should be around 90% of the nitrogen applied.
However, during colder seasons, the ammoniacal share of the nitrogen may be raised to 25% to 30% because nitrate absorption at these times is relatively inefficient. Prolonged usage of ammonium nitrogen should be accompanied by soil-pH measurements because it can lead to pH-drop, especially, in light soils with low amounts of calcium, which may, in turn, change the uptake rates of other nutrients.
Manganese, for example, may reach toxic levels. Typical nitrogen fertilizers used on strawberries include urea (46% N), ammonium nitrate (34% N), potassium nitrate (13% N), and calcium nitrate (15% N). Animal manure may be used as a nitrogen carrier because it also contributes to soil fertility via its phosphorus, potassium, and micro-nutrient content.
- It also improves the physical structure of soil, as well as its hydraulic conductance.
- The use of animal manure is recommended only if it has been well composted.
- Although it may contain considerable concentrations of nitrogen at a relatively low price, the risk of microbial contamination by organisms such as salmonella and E.
coli is too great for fresh produce. Hence, no fresh manure should be applied to the soil within 120 days before harvest. In a matted row system, the majority of the nitrogen fertilizer should be applied during the summer months following harvest, when new leaf and shoot (runner) growth is needed to reestablish good planting vigor for the following year’s crop.
During the planting year (assuming the general soil fertility is good), a strawberry planting should receive actual nitrogen at 22 to 45 kg / ha (20 to 40 pounds / acre) incorporated into the soil prior to planting. Another 35 kg / ha (30 pounds / acre) should be applied in late June to early July. A final 22 kg / ha (20 pounds / acre) can be applied in late August to early September.
Each of these applications corresponds to periods of growth in the plants. A 1:1 mixture of calcium nitrate Ca(NO3)2 and potassium nitrate (KNO3) with 14% N is the recommended source of nitrogen in new plantings because it is readily available, not volatile, and provides nitrogen, potassium, and calcium.
For established beds, only 11 to 22 kg / ha (10 to 20 pounds / acre) of actual nitrogen, if any, should be applied in the spring. As part of the renovation process following harvest, 55 to 80 kg / ha (50 to 70 pounds / acre) of actual nitrogen should be applied to the planting, followed by 22 to 33 kg / ha (20 to 30 pounds / acre) in late August to early September.
Table 4.3: Nitrogen fertilizers and their usage indicators
|Product||Analysis (%N)||Development stage for best results||Application rate (kg / 1,000 plants)||Comments|
|Urea||46||Early flowering onwards||0.4 to 0.5||Improves fruit size. Reduce at fruiting. Stop if fruit is soft.|
|Ammonium nitrate||34||As for urea||0.5 to 0.6||Improves fruit size. Stop if fruit is soft.|
|Ammonium sulfate||21 + 24% S||As for urea||0.9 to 1.0||Corrosive to mild steel.|
If nitrogen is applied by nutrigation (through the irrigation system), which is typical in plasticulture systems, pre-plant nutrients should be incorporated into the soil, as recommended above. In the planting year, actual nitrogen should be applied at 3.5 to 4.5 kg / ha / week (3 to 4 pounds / acre / week) from mid-May through early September.
|Dates||Growth stage||Actual N application (kg / ha / day)|
|Oct.1 – Nov.20||Plant establishment and first vegetative growth||0.5 – 0.7|
|Nov.21 – Dec.20||1 st wave of flowers and fruits||1.0 – 1.5|
|Dec.21 – Jan.20||Cold season, slow plant development||0.7 – 1.0|
|Jan.21 – Feb.28||2 nd wave of flowers and fruits, marked vegetative and reproductive development||1.5 – 2.0|
|March 1 – March 31||3 rd wave of flowers and fruits, peak vegetative & reproductive development||2.0 – 2.5|
|April 1 – end||3 rd & 4 th wave of flowers and fruits, peak vegetative & reproductive development. Plants use mainly stored organic nitrogen.||1.0 – 1.5|
When the grower relies on nitrogen-fixing bacteria to supply part of the nitrogen portion, he should make sure that the soil molybdenum is sufficient, as nitrogen-fixing bacteria cannot fix atmospheric nitrogen to the soil without sufficiently available molybdenum. Phosphorus (P) Phosphorus is important in the plant’s energy management (ADP-ATP) and it plays a role in fruit development. Available phosphorus is especially important during establishment of plantlets after transplanting, for new root formation. Crude phosphorus is often present in adequate amounts for good strawberry growth, but most of it is not readily available to the plants because it is strongly tied up to both the mineral and organic fractions of the soil. As a result, it does not tend to move through the soil and is not easily leached. Availability is further reduced if the soil pH is too low (<5.5), or in the range of 8.0 to 8.5 (Figure 4.5), or if calcium, magnesium, or zinc are present at over-optimal amounts. Soil tests should read 20–30 ppm (Olsen method) for optimal phosphorus uptake. Strawberries do not have a very high phosphorus demand, but if it is not available at optimal rates it can be a limiting factor. Keeping the pH near 6.5 will aid in maintaining the optimal uptake of phosphorus. After planting, it is advisable to monitor phosphorus status by observing the canopy, leaf tissue analysis, and soil tests. Figure 4.5: The availability of phosphorus to plant roots as a function of the pH of soil solution Source: Illinois Agronomy Handbook, 1979-80 As a fertilizer, it becomes available to the plants slowly, and it should therefore be worked into the soil prior to planting to improve its uptake throughout the crop's life-cycle.
- There is a strong antagonistic relationship between phosphorus and zinc: high phosphorus will invariably reduce zinc uptake, and excess zinc will have the same effect on phosphorus.
- The ideal phosphorus / zinc ratio is 10:1 respectively.
- P deficiency The first sign of phosphorus deficiency is a deep green appearance of plants and a reduction in leaf size.
As the deficiency becomes more severe the upper surface of the leaves develops a dark, metallic gloss, while the underside becomes reddish purple (Figure 4.6). The fruit and fslowers tend to be smaller than normal and the roots are less abundant, stunted and darker. Upper surface of leaves develops a dark metallic gloss Severe phosphorus deficiency on a leaf, sometimes the underside becomes reddish purple Cornell University, Department of Horticulture.2011 Figure 4.6: Phosphorus deficiency symptoms on a strawberry leaf Table 4.5: Phosphorus fertilizers and their usage indicators
|Product||Analysis||Development stage for best results||Application rate (kg / 1,000 plants)||Comments|
|Triple super phosphate||46% P 2 O 5 + 19% CaO||Pre-planting||2.5 – 3||Will supply P for several years.|
|Mono-ammonium phosphate (MAP)||61% P 2 O 5 + 12% N||Early in season and after cutting back for second crop; or before cutting back if plants are kept for a second year.||1.0 – 1.2||Improves flower and fruit size, and root growth.|
|Mono potassium||32% P 2 O 5 + 54% K 2 O||Flowering and fruiting||0.6 – 0.7||Improves flower and fruit size, and root growth.|
Haifa’s specialty phosphate fertilizers Haifa P™ Nutrigation grade phosphoric acid 0-61-0 Haifa MAP™ Nutrigation grade mono-ammonium phosphate 12-61-0 Haifa MKP™ Nutrigation grade mono-potassium phosphate 0-54-32 Potassium (K) Potassium is the third macro-nutrient, (nutritive element required in relatively high amounts) by strawberries. It is an important component of strawberry plants and helps them acquire water by the roots and control water loss by transpiration.
Potassium assists in sugar accumulation in the fruit, defies fungal and microbial diseases and insect damage, and plays an important part in tens of enzymatic reactions. Potassium may compete with magnesium for uptake by the roots and must, therefore, be maintained at an appropriate ratio (4:1, K:Mg) in the soil solution to prevent one of these nutrients from overriding the other, thereby creating a deficiency.
3 INGREDIENTS for the BEST STRAWBERRIES – the Definitive Organic Fertilizing Guide
Soil potassium is sufficient at 120 to 180 ppm. Figure 4.8: The availability of potassium to plant roots as a function of the pH of soil solution Source: Illinoi s Agronomy Handbook, 1979-80 Potassium ion (K + ) is easily percolated from sandy soil, which is generally the best soil type for strawberries due to their high drainage capacity. It is highly recommended, therefore, to fertilize strawberry fields by continuous small applications of this nutrient throughout the growth season, e.g., by nutrigation. The recommended concentration in the soil solution should be around 1.5 meq / L (=60 ppm). All major cations: calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium compete with each other on absorption by root cells. Therefore, they should be applied to the soil in a balanced manner. Over-liming, for example, can induce a magnesium deficiency, while oversupply of K+ can also reduce magnesium uptake, or can replace calcium in the plant, creating a myriad of problems, and vice-versa. Excessive sodium can replace potassium, producing another set of inherent problems. The first symptoms of K deficiency (K <1.3%) appear on the upper leaf margins of the older (lower) leaves. The serration tips redden, the injury gradually progressing inwards between the veins until most of the leaf blade is affected. Figure 4.9: Potassium deficiency on a strawberry leaf, showing increasing severity with age This is accompanied almost simultaneously by a symptom which appears to be unique to strawberries. The rachis (extension of the petiole to the central leaflet) darkens and dehydrates, sometimes a necrosis of this leaf region is evident. The blade area on either side of this tissue is similarly affected. Figure 4.10: Potassium deficiency on a strawberry leaf, darkening and necrosis of leaflet basis and center Source: Strawberry Deficiency Symptoms, 1980. Ulrich et al, Berkeley, California Fruit quality is also affected by low potassium levels. The fruit can fail to develop full color, be pulpy in texture and lack flavor.
Figure 4.11: Potassium deficiency on a strawberry fruit. Right fruit is normal, while left fruit grew on a markedly K-deficient plant. Source: Strawberry Deficiency Symptoms, 1980, Ulrich et al, Berkeley, California Few runners are produced on K-deficient plants. Those that are produced tend to be short and thin.
The symptoms of potassium deficiency on the leaves can be easily confused with those of magnesium deficiency, see flowing, or with leaf scorch caused by salinity, wind, sun, or dry conditions. Strawberry fields that are not set up for nutrigation (fertigation) need to be treated with low-solubility potassium fertilizer, such as potassium sulfate as a pre-plant dressing.
Better-equipped fields, set up for nutrigation, should usecontinuous low rates of highly soluble potassium fertilizer. Potassium nitrate (13-0-46) is the best choice for this purpose as it contains a high amount of potassium and a marked, though not too high rate of nitrogen. Muriate of potash (KCl) must not be applied to strawberry fields due to its high content of toxic chloride.
See Chapter 3, Special sensitivities. Control Apply potassium before planting and during early fruit development. A higher rate of potassium should be used in sandy soils and in high rainfall areas. Apply soluble potassium by fertigation after planting.
|Product||Analysis||Development stage for best results||Application rate (kg / 1,000 plants)||Comments|
|Potassium nitrate||13% N + 46% K 2 O||Flowering Fruiting||0.7 – 0.8||Assists in maintaining fruit quality and flavor.|
|Potassium sulfate||50% K 2 O + 16% S||Pre-planting Fruiting||0.7 – 0.8||As for potassium nitrate|
|Mono potassium phosphate (MKP)||54% K 2 O + 32% P 2 O 5||Flowering Fruiting||0.6 – 0.7||As for potassium nitrate|
Haifa’s potassium fertilizers for strawberries Multi-K™ classi c – Crystalline potassium nitrate, 13-0-46, for side dressing Multi-K™ GG – Crystalline potassium nitrate, 13.5-0-46.2, for nutrigation and foliar feeding Multi-K™ prills – Prilled potassium nitrate, 13-0-46, for side- dressing Multi™-K pHast – Crystalline low-pH potassium nitrate, 13.5-0-46.2, for side dressing at high soil pH, or high water pH Multi-npK™ – Crystalline potassium nitrate, enriched with phosphorus, 13-3-43 for all uses.
Haifa MKP ™ – Technical grade MKP 0-52-34, for all uses Calcium (Ca) Calcium is a “secondary” nutrient as classified by strawberry plant requirement rates. It has many functions in the plant. It is a structural part of the cell walls, by forming cross-links within the pectin polysaccharide matrix. With rapid plant growth, the structural integrity of stems that hold flowers and fruit, as well as the fruit firmness and shelf life, are strongly dependent on calcium availability.
Calcium is also associated with the biosynthesis of proteins and seeds. It assists in root development and movement of carbohydrates within the plant. Calcium insufficiency may impede plant growth and, as its function in root growth is so important, plants may suffer from other nutrient deficiencies as a result of calcium deficiency.
Additionally, many fungi and bacteria invade and infect plant tissue by producing enzymes (e.g., polyglacturonase) that dissolve the middle lamella. Increasing tissue calcium content drastically lowers bacterial and fungal polyglacturonase activity. Levels of calcium are usually adequate in the soil if the pH is in the appropriate range (6.0-6.2).
Soils with a low pH may become calcium deficient. Soil test levels of 1,000 – 1,500 ppm are optimal. Calcium has rather low mobility in the soil and in the plant tissues, where it is mobilized almost exclusively by the transpiration stream. Figure 4.13: The availability of sulfur, calcium, and magnesium to plant roots as a function of the pH of soil solution Source: Illinois Agronomy Handbook, 1979-80 Calcareous-, sodic-, slightly basic- and neutral soils generally contain a very high rate of soluble and plant-available calcium cations.
In such soils, Ca 2+ cations also travel freely with the movement of water, and reach plant roots by mass flow. Under these conditions, the amounts of Ca 2+ reaching the roots are usually exceedingly higher (by a factor of several hundred) than the amount taken up by the roots, so fertilization with calcium of plants growing in such conditions is generally unnecessary.
Additionally, calcium cations are supplied to the plants by the calcium contained in the irrigation water. Representative values for calcium concentration in irrigation water are in the range of 25 to 200 g / m 3 (ppm). With irrigation dose of 5,000 m 3 / ha / year, calcium carried with the water to the irrigated plot ranges between 125 and 1,000 kg / ha / year.
This is a sufficient rate for strawberries if all this water ends up in the plants’ roots zone. But the grower should always make sure that these calculations are valid for his water sources. Another source of calcium in the soil are phosphate fertilizers such as rock-phosphate (~46% CaO), single superphosphate (~28% CaO) or triple superphosphate (19% CaO), which are sometimes applied at large rates by base dressings, as rich sources of phosphorus.
These fertilizers should be worked into the soil to improve uptake. In acidic soils, however, application of soluble calcium salt, such as calcium nitrate, can be helpful in avoiding aluminum and manganese toxicity. Figure 4.14 shows the positive effect of nutrigation with calcium nitrate on soil pH at the end of the irrigation season, on the surface soil, where it exerted its effect on the soil lattice. Figure 4.14: Effect of nutrigation with calcium nitrate on soil pH Source: Haynes, 1990 Soilless cultivation is where calcium application by nutrigation is of highest importance because the inert growth medium cannot supply the necessary calcium. Here, again, calcium cations travel freely within the wetted zone and care should be taken not to leach them off the root zone.
When applying calcium by nutrigation (as well as by all other forms) special attention should be paid to apply it in a balanced way with other cations, such as ammonium, potassium, and magnesium because over-application of any of them will result in subdued uptake of the others, due to competition between the cations on the uptake site at the root level.
The calcium / magnesium ratio is of very high importance in fertility management, as soil structure, nutrient availability, and biological activity are all governed by the relative balance between these nutrients. The calcium / boron ratio is very important because boron can be toxic in the absence of sufficient calcium.
The synergy between these nutrients is delicate, so their deficiencies should ideally be addressed together. Calcium deficiency Calcium deficiencies can be the result of a soil fertility problem but are often caused by the plant’s environment, and are associated with periods of rapid growth or soil moisture fluctuations.
Young plantings and crops grown in the greenhouse, or on coarse textured, well drained soils and using trickle irrigation, may be subject to possible calcium deficiencies. Calcium is taken up by the root tips and, once in the plant, is moved within the transpiration stream.
- It is transported to the most actively transpiring parts of the plant, such as the older leaves.
- Calcium is not redistributed in the plant, hence it does not move from older leaves to younger leaves like nitrogen.
- Fruits and young leaves transpire less water or none at all, and symptoms of calcium deficiency first appear in these tissues.
- During rapid leaf growth ‘tip burn’ symptoms may appear on immature leaves. See Figure 4.15. The tips of these leaves fail to expand fully and become black. The tip-burn may show also in folded emerging leaves.
- Leaf petioles may become necrotic and cause leaf collapse. See Figure 4.16.
- Expanded young leaves are cupped, puckered, or distorted, with blunt tips.
- Globs of syrupy liquid may be found on blade midribs.
- Fruit develops a dense cover of achenes (seeds) in patches or over the entire fruit; it may have a hard texture and acidic taste. See Figure 4.17.
- The roots become short, stubby, and dark.
Figure 4.15: Calcium deficiency typical tip-burn on leaves Figure 4.16: Calcium deficiency on leaf petioles of greenhouse strawberry plants Figure 4.17: Calcium deficiency: small fruit with dense cover of seeds (left), versus normal fruit (right) Control Adjust the soil pH. Apply calcium in the form of agricultural lime or dolomite before planting. Apply calcium nitrate by fertigation or as foliar spray at first sign of deficiency. Table 4.7: Analysis of calcium nitrate and usage indicators
|Product||Analysis||Development stage for best results||Application rate (kg / 1,000 plants)||Comments|
|Calcium nitrate||15.5% N + 26.5% Ca||Post-flowering and during fruit development||1.0 to 1.2||Improves fruit color and firmness. Do not mix with magnesium sulfate.|
Calcium nitrate, CN, Ca(NO 3 ) 2 is the most important source of calcium in nutrigation. Once this fertilizer is applied, calcium cations and nitrate anions move in all soils and soilless systems in a similar manner. The plant roots will thus encounter both ion types in similar concentrations within the wetted zone, but it needs to be borne in mind that the nitrate anion is required by the plant at a 10-fold higher rate than the calcium.
|Nutrition grade||Greenhouse grade|
|NO 3 – N||14.4%||14.4%|
|NH 4 – N||1.1%||1.1%|
|Insoluble matter||2,000 ppm||300 ppm|
Apart from applying calcium nitrate when calcium deficiency symptoms are apparent, it is recommended to:
- Avoid great fluctuations in soil moisture. Therefore, using dripping irrigation and nutrigation is highly recommended.
- Adjust nitrogen or crop environment to discourage excessively rapid growth.
- Calcium deficiency is often confused with:
- Herbicide injury (such as phenoxy- and dicamba- compounds and sulfur dioxide).
- Sucking insects e.g., aphids, leafhoppers, cyclamen mites, and plant bugs.
Magnesium (Mg) Magnesium is always taken up by plant roots in the form of the divalent cation Mg 2+, Magnesium has many functions in the plant. It is a central structural component of the green chlorophyll molecule, which is responsible for capturing light energy and using it to split the water molecule into its hydrogen and oxygen parts. It is required by a large number of enzymes involved in phosphate transfer. It is also involved in carbohydrate metabolism and movement of carbohydrates from leaves to upper parts; synthesis of nucleic acids. It is related to and stimulates P uptake and transport in addition to being an activator of several enzymes. The commonly representative concentration of magnesium in plants is around 0.3% of dry weight, as compared with ~3% to 5% for N & K, and 0.5% for P & Ca. Strawberries are no exception to this rule, having 0.30% to 0.50% in dry matter as optimum concentration. Calcareous, slightly basic, and neutral clay soils generally contain a considerable rate of about 6% of magnesium cations in the composition of the clay mineral montmorillonite. While weathering, these soils slowly release the Mg 2+ cations to the soil solution. In these soils, Mg 2+ cations also travel freely with the water movement, and reach plant roots by mass flow. Under such conditions, the amounts of Mg 2+ reaching the roots are usually exceedingly higher (by a factor of several hundred) than the amount taken up by the roots, so fertilization with magnesium of plants growing in these conditions is generally unnecessary. Silt or clay soils with a CEC greater than 10 meq / 100 g soil, are considered to have adequate magnesium if the magnesium share of this CEC is ~10%. Adequate magnesium levels in the soil solution are normally above 50 to 100 ppm. Additionally, magnesium cations are supplied to the plants by the magnesium contained in the irrigation water. Representative values for magnesium concentration in irrigation water are in the range of 15 to 60 g / m 3 (ppm). With irrigation doses of 5,000 m 3 / ha / year, magnesium carried with the water to the irrigated plot ranges between 75 and 300 kg / ha / year. This is a sufficient rate for most crops if all the water ends up in the plants’ roots zone. But the grower should always make sure that these calculations are valid for his water sources. In acidic soils, however, application of soluble magnesium salts such as magnesium nitrate can be helpful in avoiding aluminum and manganese toxicity. Figure 4.14 above shows the positive effect of nutrigation with calcium nitrate on soil pH at the end of the irrigation season, on the surface soil, where it exerts its effect on soil lattice. Similar effect can be expected by applying magnesium nitrate. Soil test levels of 120 to 180 ppm Mg should provide optimal growth for strawberries. Soilless cultivation is where magnesium application by nutrigation is of highest importance because the inert growth medium cannot supply the necessary magnesium. Here, again, magnesium cations travel freely within the wetted zone and care should be taken not to leach them off the root zone. When applying magnesium by nutrigation (as well as by all other forms) special attention should be paid to apply it in a balanced way with other cations, such as ammonium, potassium, and calcium because over-application of any of them will result in subdued uptake of the others, due to competition between the cations at the root level on the uptake site. Potassium can compete with magnesium for root uptake, and should therefore be kept at an appropriate balance (4:1, K:Mg) to prevent one from causing a deficiency in the other. Availability of magnesium is reduced under low soil pH <5.5 (see Figure 4.13), and under heavy use of potassium fertilizers. Symptoms of Mg deficiency (Mg <0.1%) in strawberry plants are:
- Tissue in the interveinal regions of older leaves starts with chlorosis, which turns into necrosis as the deficiency progresses.
- In some instances, a marginal scorch forming a halo pattern can be observed near the base of the serrations on the older leaves.
Marginal leaf scorch begins as yellowing and browning of the upper leaf margin, progressing towards the center of the leaf between the veins (see Figure 4.19). The basal part of the leaf and the short petiole remain green and turgid, unlike in potassium deficiency. Fruits from magnesium deficient plants appear normal, except that they are lighter in color and softer in texture. Figure 4.19: Magnesium deficiency on strawberry leaves. Marginal scorch (left) and normal leaf (right) Control Deficiencies in strawberry plants can be easily remedied. The most common source of magnesium for pre-planting application is dolomitic or “high-mag” lime, which, in addition to calcium, contains a significant percentage of magnesium.
- Apply dolomite several months before planting if soil test results indicate low levels of magnesium and low pH.
- Magnesium nitrate and magnesium sulfate are soluble magnesium salts that can be applied directly to the soil, or through the irrigation system, and / or be applied to plants as a foliar spray.
Magnesium nitrate (Mg(NO3)2; 11-0-0-16MgO) is a fertilizer with extremely high solubility. Its solubility is 8 to 9 folds higher than that of magnesium sulfate. Magnesium nitrate is also relatively rich in nitrate, which is the preferred form of nitrogen for strawberries.
|Product||Analysis||Development stage for best results||Application rate (kg / 1,000 plants)||Comments|
|Magnesium nitrate||11% N + 16% MgO||Pre-flowering||0.3 to 0.5||Improves fruit color and firmness.|
|Magnesium sulfate ( Epsom salt )||16% MgO + 14% S||Pre-planting Pre-flowering||0.2 to 0.4||Improves fruit color and firmness. Do not mix with calcium nitrate.|
A foliar spray of magnesium nitrate can also be used to give immediate relief, but it should be tested on a few plants first. Discontinue at the first sign of phytotoxicity. Haifa produces and markets the most soluble magnesium product available, magnesium nitrate, under the brand nameMagnisal™. Following are the technical data of Magnisal™: Analysis
|pH (0.1% solution)||5.56|
|EC (0.1% solution)||0.88 dS / m|
Magnesium sulfate heptahydrate ( Epsom Salt, MgSO 4 *7H 2 O; 0-0-0+16.3MgO) This is a natural occurring mineral with lower solubility. It also contains sulfur, which is a secondary plant nutrient and is hence required by plants at much lower rates. Haifa markets magnesium sulfate heptahydrate under the brand name BitterMag™.
Micronutrients Micronutrients, also termed ‘trace elements’ are chemical elements present in the plants at 2-4 orders of magnitude less than, e.g., N and K.I.e., while common N and K concentration in dry weight of plants in around 3% to 5%, the common concentrations of micronutrients, is around 5 to 200 ppm.
The most important micro-nutrients in terms of strawberries are boron (B) and zinc (Zn). Others are iron, manganese, copper, and molybdenum. Figure 4.22: The availability of micronutrients to plant roots as a function of the pH of soil solution Source: Illinois Agronomy Handbook, 1979-80 The cationic micronutrients, i.e., Fe, Zn, Cu, and Mn are highly vulnerable to clay particles in the soil. Therefore, if applied to the soil as inorganic soluble salts, e.g., sulfates, they will normally quickly be immobilized and rendered unavailable to plant roots. Moreover, micronutrients’ availability to plant roots is highly pH-dependent. Figure 4.22 above shows that optimal availability of iron, manganese, boron, copper, and zinc takes place in the pH range of 5.0 to 7.5, while molybdenum is most available at pH> 6.5. Boron Boron is associated with several of the functions of calcium. Boron improves calcium efficiency and vice-versa, but there is a downside to this system. If calcium levels are too low, boron can become excessive and toxic. Calcium and boron deficiencies should always be addressed together. Maintaining ideal boron availability for the full crop cycle can prove problematic because boron is the most soluble and leachable of trace elements, and maintaining good levels in wet conditions is a major challenge, especially in light soils. On the other hand, boron availability rapidly declines in dry conditions. Apart from these soil problems, boron is not readily mobile within the plant. One ppm of boron is considered an ideal level in a soil solution but, as this level is very hard to maintain, well-timed foliar supplementation can be very productive, particularly when applied immediately before flowering. The functions of boron in strawberry plants:
- It increases nitrogen availability to the plant.
- It is involved in the synthesis of cell wall components.
- Boron increases calcium metabolism and function efficiency within the plant.
- It has a central role in pollen-tube viability elongation and germination, hence in good seed set and normal fruit development and structure.
- Boron influences cell mitosis, development, and elongation.
- It plays a key role in the elongation growth of primary and lateral roots.
- Boron is important for fruit set.
- Boron helps in carrying sugars from the leaf to the seeds of the fruit.
Conditions associated with boron deficiencies:
- Leached, acidic soils.
- Calcareous or over-limed soils and soils with high pH.
- Light, sandy soils.
- Excessive usage of potassium and nitrogen.
- Drought conditions.
- Soils low in organic matter (humus is the boron storehouse).
- Boron performance can be negatively affected by low phosphate levels.
Younger boron-deficient strawberry leaves show puckering and tip-burn, followed by marginal yellowing and crinkling with reduced growth at the growing point. See Figure 4.23 below. Figure 4.23: Boron deficiency on strawberry leaves Moderate deficiency of boron reduces the flower size (Figure 4.24) and decreases pollen production, resulting in small, ‘bumpy’ fruit of poor quality (Figure 4.25). Root growth can be stunted. Figure 4.24: Boron deficiency on strawberry flowers, left – normal, right – B- deficient Figure 4.25: Boron deficiency on strawberry fruit Control It must be borne in mind that excessive amounts of boron are toxic to the plant and should not be used excessively. The deviation from optimal concentrations of boron in the plant can risk its performance in both a deficiency or an excessive concentration, and the difference between the two is rather small, so care must be taken to make sure that the plant has enough, but never too much.
- Boric acid (H 3 BO 3 ) with 17% B.
- Inkabor/Solubor (20.5% B).
- Ulexite: A calcium / borate product containing 14% boron, naturally fused with a calcium synergist.
- Stabilized boron humates: This product helps in the management of boron nutrition, mainly because complexing the boron by humates minimizes the leaching problem.
Borax is a series of salts of boric acid that differ in their hydration states (and therefore in their B content). It normally has 11% boron, with poor solubility, but it is useful in maintaining soil levels by pre-planting application. Zinc (Zn) The functions of zinc in soil and plant nutrition:
- Zinc activates many enzymes.
- Zinc has a critical role in the production of the auxin IAA, which regulates plant elongation and expansion as well as fruit development.
- It plays an important role in the formation and activity of chlorophyll.
- It is involved in protein synthesis.
- It is important for carbohydrate metabolism.
- Zinc plays a major role in the absorption of moisture. Plants with adequate zinc nutrition have enhanced drought-handling capacity.
The optimal level of zinc in strawberry leaf tissue is 25 to 45 ppm. Common reasons for reduced zinc availability to strawberry plants:
- Zinc in the soil is more available to plants under low pH conditions. Therefore, reduced zinc availability to plants is very common in calcareous soils. Likewise, heavy applications of lime and / or phosphorus reduce the availability of zinc to the plants.
- Soils lacking mycorrhizal fungi.
- Light, sandy soils.
- High phosphorus levels – phosphate ties up zinc.
- Cold, wet soils.
- Soils featuring anaerobic decomposition, i.e., zinc bonds with sulfides produced in these conditions and becomes insoluble.
Zinc deficiency is easily distinguished on strawberry leaves by the discolored ‘halo’ that develops along the serrated margins of young, immature leaf blades. As the leaves continue to grow the blades become narrow at the base and eventually become elongated with severe deficiency. Figure 4.26: Manifestation of zinc deficiency by discoloration along the serrated margins of leaf blades, and chlorosis of interveinal area. Control Zinc fertilizers
- Zinc oxide (ZnO) is a viable option to build soil levels and contains 80% zinc. However, it is usually a slow-release product that will only become available towards the end of the crop.
- Zinc sulphate heptahydrate (ZnSO 4 *7H 2 O) contains 23% zinc, while monohydrate (ZnSO 4 *1H 2 O) contains 35%. In terms of cost per unit of zinc, zinc sulphate monohydrate is usually the most economical choice. Add zinc sulfate (ZnSO 4 ) with 36% Zn to the fertilizer program and apply at planting to soils known to be low in zinc. It is typically applied as part of a fertilizer blend to the soil, or applied as a foliar spray to help achieve uniform distribution of a small amount of material over a relatively large area.
- The most efficient way to treat zinc deficiency is by Zn Chelate; 14% EDTA-Zn.
Chelates are generally highly water soluble. Chelates can be pre-dissolved and injected into the trickle irrigation system as liquid, for precise application commanded by the small amounts required. The chelating agent guards the micronutrient from immobilization as long as it is in the soil solution.
But once it gets close to the acidic root surface it is released from the chelate complex, enters the plant and wanders around in it in the form of cation-organic acid, e.g., Zn-citrate. Foliar spray. The application of zinc by fertigation or as a foliar spray can give immediate relief. However, the use of zinc sulfate as a foliar spray may damage young leaves, flowers, and fruit.
Discontinue treatment at the first sign of phytotoxicity. Haifa’s products for controlling zinc deficiency Haifa Micro™ Zn EDTA 14%, a stable, water-soluble and non dusting zinc EDTA chelate Multi-K™ Zn crystalline potassium nitrate enriched with zinc Iron (Fe) Iron is the most abundant element in the known universe, and yet the lack of plant-available iron can be a serious yield-limiter in almost every area of agriculture.
Most soils contain 20 to 200 MT of iron per hectare, but very little of this reserve is plant available. Also, potential iron problems are magnified, as iron does not move easily within the plant. Ideal iron soil analysis ranges between 40 and 200 ppm, but levels exceeding these figures do not guarantee avoidance of Fe deficiency.
The functions of iron
- Iron is one of the essential elements required for biological nitrogen fixation.
- Adequate iron, in plant-available form, is essential for protein synthesis. non-haeme iron proteins.
- Fe is an indispensable oxygen-carrier for chlorophyll production.
- Iron is a constituent of cytochromes, it is involved in respiratory linked dehydrogenases.
- Iron is also involved in the reduction of nitrates and sulfates and in reduction processes by peroxidase and adolase.
- Fe increases leaf thickness, which, in turn, enhances nutrient flow, which eventually increases yield.
- Iron makes the leaf darker, with a greater capacity to absorb solar energy.
Conditions creating iron deficiencies
- Excessive phosphate applications or high phosphate levels in the soil.
- High manganese, copper, or molybdenum reduces iron uptake. Iron deficiency is bound to take place when manganese exceeds iron levels in the soil solution by two-fold or more. Therefore, iron should always be higher than manganese to avoid likely iron lockup.
- Cold, wet conditions limit iron uptake, particularly in the early growth stages.
- Excessive lime applications reduce iron availability.
- Inadequate soil aeration hinders Fe mobility.
- High soil pH (7.5 or higher, see Figure 4.22) and / or calcareous and poorly drained soils.
- Low organic matter, because organic matter serves as a chelating agent for Fe and other trace elements.
Iron deficiency is first expressed by yellowing of the leaf blade while veins retain their green color. As the deficiency becomes more severe, yellowing increases to the point of bleaching and the leaf blades turn brown. See Figure 4.28. Fruit size and quality are not greatly affected. Figure 4.28: Iron deficiency symptoms on strawberry leaves. Green network of fine veins distinct in early stages, followed by interveinal yellowing and then severe chlorosis Control Check soil pH. If the pH level is high, cease liming and use pH-reducing fertilizers such as ammonium sulfate.
- Apply Fe Chelates, e.g., Fe-EDTA (13% Fe), or Fe-DTPA (7% Fe), by fertigation or by foliar spray, when symptoms first appear.
- The type of chelating agent recommended depends mainly on the pH value of the soil or growth medium, and on the crop.
- If iron sulfate (FeSO 4 ), an inorganic soluble salt of iron, is applied to the soil, it will normally quickly be immobilized and rendered unavailable to plant roots.
Haifa’s products for controlling iron deficiency Multi-K™ ME crystalline potassium nitrate enriched with micro-nutrients Foliar applied Fe chelates are most effective in correcting crop deficiencies in the growing season and are perhaps the best solution for strawberries grown on high-pH soils.
- It is involved in production of amino acids and proteins.
- Hastens the fruiting and ripening of crops.
- Accelerates and improves seed formation and germination, and the early establishment of the seedling.
- It is a critical enzyme activator for dehydrogenases, decarboxylases, kinases, oxidases, peroxidases, and non-specifically by other divalent cation-activated enzymes.
- Essential for carbohydrate and nitrogen metabolism.
- Manganese has important roles in chlorophyll formation and nitrate reduction.
- Required for chlorophyll production.
- Manganese is a vital component of photo-system II in the photosynthesis process. Hence, it’s required for the assimilation of carbon dioxide in photosynthesis.
- Directly involved in plant uptake of iron.
Conditions creating manganese deficiencies
- Soil pH >8, or <4.5. See Figure 4.22.
- Soils with very high levels of organic matter.
- Light, sandy soils.
- Natural excessive calcium or overliming can tie up manganese, even moderate applications of lime will magnify a manganese deficiency.
- High phosphorus and iron can limit manganese uptake.
- An overuse of potassium and magnesium can reduce manganese uptake because of soil pH increases.
- When combined sodium and potassium base saturation percentages total over 10%, then manganese uptake will be limited, regardless of soil test results. This problem occurs most often in lighter soils.
- Cool, wet conditions.
The first sign of manganese deficiency is pale greening to yellowing of young leaves. As the deficiency progresses, the main veins remain dark green, while the interveinal areas become yellow, followed by scorching and upward turning of the leaf blade margins. Manganese- deficient strawberry leaf Somewhat faint interveinal chlorosis beginning at margins and progressing towards midrib Manganese- deficient strawberry plant Figure 4.30: Manganese deficiency symptoms on strawberry leaves Figure 4.31: Manganese deficiency symptoms on strawberry leaf – a network of dense yellow dots Control Manganese sulfate (MnSO 4 ) contains 31% manganese and can be used as a soil supplement or through fertigation when deficiencies are slight (i.e., 20 to30 ppm of Mn 2+ in soil solution).
- It is generally not cost effective to build soil levels with manganese sulfate.
- In more seriously deficient soils the product of choice is Mn-EDTA (13% Mn) applied by fertigation or by foliar spray.
- Foliar spray of manganese sulfate can give some relief but may be toxic, especially at flowering and at fruit-set.
Success in using Mn-EDTA for fertigation and foliar sprays is generally guaranteed. Haifa’s products for controlling zinc deficiency Multi-K™ ME crystalline potassium nitrate enriched with micro-nutrients Manganese toxicity may take place when soil-pH drops during relatively short periods of time, as a result of continuous use of ammonium fertilizers.
- Copper (Cu) The ideal range of copper concentration in the soil solution is 5 to 10 ppm.
- Excessive copper can affect phosphate, zinc, and iron uptake.
- Where copper levels in soils exceed several hundred ppm, copper can become the yield limiting factor in many crops, including wheat, corn, cotton, pasture, canola, orchard crops, and vegetables, including onions, spinach, and brassicas.
The functions of copper
- Essential in many enzyme systems, particularly those associated with respiration (many oxidase enzymes). Copper is also a constituent of cytochrome oxidase and haeme in equal proportions. Anaerobic metabolism, and hormonal metabolism.
- Important for water movement within the plant.
- Copper is a key component in many proteins.
- Essential for chlorophyll formation and photosynthesis processes.
- Cu-proteins have a marked effect on the formation of lignin, and the composition of cell walls. Hence it is important for stems strength, flexibility, and elasticity.
- Vitally important for root metabolism.
- Helps prevent development of chlorosis, resetting, and die-back.
- Provides a natural fungicidal effect. This feature can be a problem where copper levels in the soil have become too high due to extensive human sprays (above 15 ppm), as this fungicidal quality becomes detrimental to beneficial fungi in the soil.
Conditions creating copper deficiencies
- Soil pH >8, or <4.5, see Figure 4.22.
- Light, sandy, coastal soils are invariably deficient.
- Peaty, high-organic matter soils tend to hold copper, strongly reducing plant availability.
- Excessive phosphate and nitrogen can limit copper availability.
- Over liming can create deficiencies.
- High zinc levels can reduce copper uptake.
- Drought conditions can intensify any copper problems.
Copper deficiency symptoms Copper is relatively immobile within plants, so deficiency symptoms normally occur first on new growth, and youngest leaves are worst affected. Copper-deficient strawberry leaves develop chlorotic to bleached blades, especially on their bases. Their veins remain green, but may sometimes become brownish-black. See Figure 4.33. Figure 4.33: Copper deficiency symptoms on strawberry leaf Control When copper deficiency is encountered, copper sulfate, CuSO 4 (25% Cu) may be an efficient and inexpensive solution, and it is the best material to build soil levels.20 kg/ha of copper sulfate is the maximum application rate for soil-grown strawberries, at any one time, as copper applications can affect soil-fungi.
- This figure should be reduced 20-fold in case of soilless grown strawberries.
- CuSO 4 can also be used as a foliar feeding at 0.5%, to address deficiencies.
- It was proved that it is more effective than the more expensive hydroxides and oxychlorides.
- The most effective way of correcting Cu deficiencies in strawberries is by applying copper chelates such as Cu-EDTH (14% Cu), by nutrigation (fertigation) or by foliar sprays.
Multi-K™ ME, is a product containing potassium nitrate plus a mixture of all micronutrients, for safe continuous maintenance of the plantation. Haifa’s products for controlling copper deficiency Multi-K™ ME crystalline potassium nitrate enriched with micro-nutrients Molybdenum (Mo) Molybdenum is the least abundant of all the recognized micro-nutrients in the soil.
- Essential for nitrogen fixation.
- Required for the synthesis and activity of the enzyme nitrate-reductase (reduces nitrates to ammonium in the plant).
- Involved in electron transport in plant metabolism.
- Linked to organically-bound phosphorus uptake in the plant.
Conditions associated with molybdenum deficiencies
- Acidic soils that are highly leached.
- Timber soils.
- Acidic, sandy soils.
- Soils that are high in other metal oxides.
Symptoms of deficiency In strawberries, Mo deficiency looks very much like nitrogen deficiency (paleness and stunting). The leaf edges also tend to burn because of the accumulation of unused nitrates. Control When Molybdenum deficiency is encountered, molydbic acid monohydrate (MoO 3 ·H 2 O (59.6% Mo), or sodium molybdate dihydrate Na 2 MoO 4 ·2H 2 O (39.7% Mo), can be applied.
|Leaf symptoms||Possible causes|
|Uniform yellowing||Nitrogen or sulfur deficiency or poor soil drainage|
|Yellowing with veins remaining green||Zinc, manganese or iron deficiency|
|Yellowing of leaf base||Copper deficiency|
|Darkening of leaf base or center vein||Potassium deficiency|
|Dark green foliage||Phosphorus deficiency|
|Leaf scorch||Potassium or magnesium deficiency or salt toxicity|
|Growing points damaged with restricted growth||Calcium or boron deficiency|
|Brown-black veins||Copper or boron deficiency|
|Fruit symptoms||Possible causes|
|Poor pollination (bumpy fruit)||Boron deficiency, frost damage or high temperature during flowering|
|Hard seed||Calcium deficiency|
|Soft, poor color and flavor||Potassium deficiency|
Which plants do not like coffee grounds?
How to Use Coffee Grounds in the Garden If your favorite barista is bagging used grounds to go for garden use, hit the pause button before you grab a few bags. Learn what you need to know about using coffee grounds in the gardena at home. Home gardeners have heard they can count on used coffee grounds to do all kinds of things.
Spread on planting beds like mulch, grounds are said to repel cats, fertilize soil, kill slugs and keep weeds at bay. A coffee mulch is also rumored to beckon earthworms and acidify soil. Other gardeners work coffee grounds into beds, swearing it aerates and acidifies soil. Julie Martens Forney Save used coffee grounds to add to your compost pile along with roughly four parts chopped leaves and a handful of lime or wood ash.
That’s the safest way to use them in the garden. The Facts on Coffee Grounds There’s limited research on using coffee grounds in the garden, and much of what has been done involves:
Tests to determine if grounds are acidic (mostly they are) What happens as grounds break down (they eventually shift from acid to more or less neutral pH) Testing grounds on various agricultural crops (it either enhances or deters growth, depending on the plant)
As with most rumors, even the ones about coffee grounds contain a grain of truth. While coffee grounds have not been found to repel or kill pests, they do have some antimicrobial properties. In very specific controlled research conditions, grounds have suppressed some diseases (fungus rots and wilts) on spinach, bean, tomato and cucumber.
Could you replicate those conditions in a garden setting? Likely not. In terms of fertilizing soil, coffee grounds do have significant nitrogen content, which means they can help improve soil fertility. But because they also affect microorganisms in soil, plant growth and possibly soil pH, you don’t want to rely on coffee grounds as plant food.
Julie Martens Forney It’s best to add coffee grounds, not whole beans, to compost. Coffee grounds have a high nitrogen content, along with a few other nutrients plants can use. In compost, they help create organic matter that improves the ability of soil to hold water.
- Several independent pH tests on coffee grounds show that they tend to be acidic.
- In most cases, the grounds are too acidic to be used directly on soil, even for acid-loving plants like blueberries, azaleas and hollies.
- Coffee grounds inhibit the growth of some plants, including geranium, asparagus fern, Chinese mustard and Italian ryegrass.
Conversely, grounds (used as mulch and compost) improve yields of soybeans and cabbage. In other cases, grounds inhibit seed germination of clovers (red and white) and alfalfa. On the flip side, coffee grounds enhance sugar beet seed germination. The effects of coffee grounds on seeds and plants is variable, unreliable and tough to call.
Compost Coffee Grounds. The safest way to use coffee grounds is adding to compost. Take care to add grounds so that they comprise only 10 to 20 percent of your total compost volume. Any higher, and they might inhibit good microbes from breaking down organic matter. Another way to approach this volume is to add 4 parts shredded leaves to 1 part coffee grounds (by weight). Some folks still suggest adding lime or wood ash to the compost to offset the initial acidity of the grounds. You can do that, but it’s not really necessary. If you want to do it, aim for a ratio of 1 cup of lime or ash to 10 pounds of grounds. Spread Grounds Thinly and Cover. Using coffee grounds as a thick mulch isn’t a great idea because they tend to compact, forming a barrier that doesn’t let air or water pass. If you want to spread grounds on soil, use a thin layer (half an inch, tops) covered with a thicker layer (2-4 inches) of organic matter, such as shredded bark, wood chips or compost. Shift Soil pH With Grounds. If your goal is to acidify notoriously alkaline soils west of the Mississippi River, take a soil test first to know your soil’s pH. If you need to acidify it, dig grounds into soil to a depth of 7 to 8 inches.
: How to Use Coffee Grounds in the Garden
Is tomato Fertiliser good for strawberries?
A tomato fertilizer is rich in potassium and that makes it perfectly suitable for using on strawberry plants. Such a feed on strawberry plants that are growing in pots or containers every week or two from early spring onwards will boost flowering and the setting of fruit.
What is the best acidic fertilizer?
How to Make Soil More Acidic – If your soil is alkaline or you garden with a neutral soil medium such as coco coir (made from the husks of coconut hulls), you’ll need to supplement with an appropriate fertilizer. A number of products and DIY concoctions can serve as fertilizer for acid-loving plants. Here are some ways to make your soil more acidic:
Coffee grounds: Acid-loving rose plants benefit from a sprinkling of coffee grounds, which are naturally acidic. Place used coffee grounds on a newspaper or baking sheet in the sun and allow them to dry for two to three days before applying them to the plant’s base. Compost: This organic material not only increases soil acidity but also provides other nutrients, such as magnesium and nitrogen, that plants need to thrive. Eggshells: Eggshells, which are made of calcium carbonate, serve as an effective fertilizer for acid-loving plants of all kinds. Place dried eggshells in a blender to grind them into a powder, then dust them over your soil. Epsom salt: Mix 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt with 1 gallon of water, and water your vegetable, rose, and houseplants with this solution once a month. The magnesium and sulfate in the salts provide these plants with nutrients lacking in neutral soils. Fish tank water: Water any acid-loving plant with dirty fish tank water, which is rich in nitrogen.Â Peat moss: Peat is highly acidic; adding 1 to 2 inches of this organic compound to the topsoil of container plants and small gardens can effectively lower pH levels. Pine needles: Mulch with pine needles, which help soils stay moist and serve as a fertilizer for acid-loving plants. Vinegar: Mix 0.5 to 1 tablespoon of white vinegar with a gallon of water and use this solution to water your vegetables and houseplants (particularly those in containers) every three months. Its acetic acid will help lower the soil’s pH.
Solutions such as vinegar are fast-acting, while organic materials such as compost, pine needles, and peat moss lower pH levels over time. It could take months for these fertilizers to be effective, depending on the soil’s temperature, moisture, and bacteria presence.Â If you buy a commercial fertilizer for acid-loving plants, look for products containing:
Ammonium sulfate.Ammonium nitrate.Elemental sulfur.Granular sulfur.Iron chelates.Iron sulfate.Sulfur-coated urea.
Follow label directions for application very closely if you opt to go this route. Some ingredients, such as ammonium sulfate, are very strong and can burn leaves and plants if used improperly or in excess. If your soil does become too acidic, blend it with a neutral growth medium such as coco coir to right the ship.
What is the best organic fertilizer for strawberries?
1. Manage The Nitrogen – Strawberry plants have a higher relative nitrogen demand in the early spring and late fall. In early spring the plants are going through a highly energy-demanding period as they produce their strawberries and put out strawberry runners. Even if the runners are removed (see below!), nitrogen can run low quite quickly in organic strawberry beds.
- Using conventional methods, chemical fertilizers with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are easily added to buoy the needed nutrients and keep the berries coming.
- But, for the devotee of organic methods using the NPK chemical fertilizers is not an option.
- So, the first secret to growing loads of organic strawberries is to successfully keep nitrogen levels up in your berry planting.
To maintain productivity and nitrogen levels, you’ll need to use organic fertilizers. Blood meal is a good option as it has 13% nitrogen. Other organic sources of nitrogen include fish meal, soy meal, and alfalfa meal. Feather meal is also a good source of nitrogen at 15%, but has very slow release rates.
How can I make nitrogen rich fertilizer at home?
Recipe for homemade nitrogen fertilizer #1: Urea and grass – This is the easiest fertilizer to make at home – both key ingredients are readily available: grass and urine! Urine is an overlooked nutrient source that is too often wasted. Don’t waste your grass clippings either – they are a good source of nitrogen, with an NPK ratio of 4:2:1 (4 % nitrogen, 2 % potassium, 1 % phosphorus).
What makes strawberries sweeter?
The chemistry of taste and smell – When I was young – in the 1950s – you only saw strawberries in the shops for a couple of weeks of the summer, roughly coinciding with Wimbledon. Now we have them all the year round. This is because strawberry breeders have been aiming for fruit with particular (and marketable) properties such as uniform appearance, large fruit, freedom from disease and long shelf-life.
- But by concentrating on genetic factors that favour these qualities, other genes have been lost, such as some of the genes responsible for flavour.
- The balance of sweetness and acidity is very important to the taste of a strawberry.
- As strawberries ripen, their sugar content rises from about 5% in unripe green fruit to 6–9% on ripening.
At the same time, the acidity decreases, meaning ripe strawberries taste much sweeter. The ripening process is controlled by a hormone called auxin. When its activity reaches its peak, it causes the cell wall to degrade and so a ripe strawberry becomes juicy as well as sweet.
At the same time, gaseous molecules from the strawberries make their way up the back of the throat to our nose when we chew on them, where they plug into “smell receptors”. But how do scientists know which molecules are responsible for taste and smell? More than 350 molecules have been identified in the vapour from strawberries – and around 20 to 30 of those are important to their flavour.
Unlike raspberries, there is no single molecule with a “strawberry smell”, So what we smell is a blend – these molecules together give the smell sensation we know as “strawberry”. Chemists made up a model strawberry juice containing what they thought were the most important odorants, at the same concentration found in the original juice extract.
Sensory testers agreed that this model closely matched the real extract. They then made up a series of new mixtures, each containing 11 of the 12 main odorants, with a different molecule missing from each. The testers could therefore find out if omitting that molecule made any difference to the odour.
For example, leaving out 2,5-dimethyl-4-hydroxy-3(2H)-furanone or (Z)-3-hexenal was noticed by virtually all the testers – and omitting compounds known as esters – chemical compounds – such as methyl butanoate, ethyl butanoate or ethyl 2-methylbutanoate were also spotted by most. Common or garden strawberry. David Monniaux/wikimedia, CC BY-SA Another impression was a fruity scent, due to the esters, which are responsible for the aroma of many other fruit, including banana and pineapple. They can make up 90% of the aroma molecules from a strawberry.
Which fertilizer makes a fruit sweet?
Have you ever eaten fruit that just has NO flavour and is so tasteless that it leaves you disappointed? – At the ripening stage, plants utilise Potassium to increase sugar levels to sweeten fruit so it is full of flavour and delicious juicy goodness.
When a plant is deficient in Potassium it is unable to ripen the fruit properly and the sugar levels don’t mature to give the fruit that mouth-watering full flavour that we expect. During ripening, Potassium is the most abundant mineral utilised by plants until the fruit is harvested. Often soil tests show that the soil contains large amounts of Potassium (K), however, it is often ‘locked up’ or inaccessible to the plants, therefore the soil can have high K levels but the plants can be deficient.
This, in turn, affects the fruit quality. If the plants are not able to absorb enough Potassium they will struggle to produce the fruit of export quality in terms of full flavours, bright colours, optimum levels of sugar and dry matter. There are classic signs your crop is K deficient, such as marginal chlorosis of the older plant leaves, however, by the time your crop is symptomatic you would already have yield loss and therefore profit loss also.
- This has ramifications for each crop type, for example, bland grapes won’t produce flavourful wine and delayed ripening can mean crops can’t be harvested before rains set in (hello fruit split and botrytis! ).
- For any grower, it’s easy to see how a Potassium deficient crop can severely affect the bottom line.
Ensuring optimum Potassium levels of the plant (not just the soil) is imperative at and during ripening stage till harvest. The next question is, when selecting a foliar potassium product, what is best? Ensure no Nitrogen is present in your Potassium product Ensure your fertiliser product does not contain Nitrogen, as so many do. Nitrogen is not required during the lead-up to the harvest period, as it encourages new plant growth. Prior to harvest, we want all the plant energy to go into ripening of fruit rather than new vegetation.
Potassium products containing Nitrogen will increase leaf growth resulting in lower fruit quality, also possible fruit softening. How adding Nitrogen at ripening also negatively affects Calcium utilisation We know that with increased plant growth comes the requirement for much more Calcium (Ca) to fortify that new growth.
Calcium can be a difficult mineral to move to fruit especially via the use of traditional fertiliser. However, Calcium is very important as it is required for fruit wall strength (firmer fruit) and assisting plants to resist pest and disease damage at a time when the sugars are high and weak-walled fruit are most attractive to pests.
Having Calcium diverted to the fruit to build stronger cell walls means the fruit will resist splitting, in turn, reducing crop loss. So, added Nitrogen in a Potassium product utilised for ripening is a BIG negative and one we hope you are aware of when selecting a product for your crops. Ensure you read the labels, as self-education can save you loads of time and money by ensuring you select the correct product at the correct time.
Unless you have a known nitrogen deficiency, having Nitrogen in your Potassium product is wasteful of resources, and can end up COSTING you way more as it is working against what you are trying to achieve by increasing plant growth instead of ripening fruit.