Strawberries should be in the ground across Georgia so what is the next thing that growers need to look out for? Pre-plant practices such as rotation, fumigation and fertilization all ensure our strawberry crop gets off to a good start. During the early part of the growing season there are a few things that growers need to be looking for. Root rots and spider mites early in the season can rob you of significant yields later in the year.
Tow-Spotted Spider Mites are one of the “biggest” yield robbing pests I see annually. The mites are extremely small and feed on the underside of the leaves. This makes them hard to detect unless you pull leaves and use a hand lens. Low to moderate populations do not produce very noticeable damage. Even at low levels spider mites can have a significant impact on yield and quality. Populations can also get out of control when row covers are applied and left in place for multiple days or even weeks.
The protected environment under the covers provides the perfect, warm and dry, environment for populations to explode. Scouting once a week for spider mites is sufficient. Weekly check for the presence of both mites and eggs. If you have questions of when to treat contact your County Extension Agent.
Root rot (Phytophthora) is another problem that can “sneak” up on. Often some of the transplants will have this disease and it is also present in fields that are continuously planted to strawberry or other plasticulture crops. This is why fumigation and/or rotation is critical to successful strawberry production. For resistance management we should not just make prescription applications of products to control this disease. However if you feel that phytophthora is present in your planting using an approved fungicide 2-3 weeks after planting is recommended.
Finally leaf spots are always present in strawberry fields especially if we have warm wet fall weather. There are three disease that we commonly see: Leaf spot, leaf scorch and leaf blight. These diseases are not normally damaging but the can be unsightly. There are several fungicides labeled for controlling these diseases but I usually just recommend Captan. Captan is a good choice because it also has some activity on botrytis and anthracnose crown rot.