It looks like most Georgia growers escaped any severe damage during our Christmas freeze. Now is the time to take tissue samples and get ready for another strawberry season.
Tissue sampling is the best way to determine if your plants have the nutrients they need to produce acceptable yields. Sampling throughout the season can also save you money and reduce excess fertilization, while also catching nutrient deficiencies.
Tissue sampling now should be done on youngest fully expanded leaves. These leaves will be found in the middle of the canopy. Be sure not to sample leaves that have spider mites or are diseased. This January sample is most important to determine boron (B) levels. Boron is important 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. I recommend applications of B if tissue results are 40 ppm or below.
Early sampling also helps determine how efficient our 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 now can lead to poorly developed roots, stunted plants and reduced yields.
I can’t end without reminding everyone to scout their fields for mites. Freezing weather may slow them down, but I promise it did not kill them all. Growers need to strive to be mite free by the start of March. If mite populations are low starting in March growers should be able to avoid applications of miticides during the season. For any help with strawberries or other crops contact your County Agent.