Agronomic Services — News ReleaseFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, MAY 15, 2001
NCDA&CS taking a new look at strawberry fertilization
RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Agronomic Division is conducting a two-year study to look at the fertilization requirements of different varieties of strawberries. The findings could change the fertilizer recommendations for strawberries, resulting in cost savings for growers, an improved product for consumers and better protection of the environment.
Most commercial strawberry growers use results from the soil testing and plant tissue analysis services provided by NCDA&CS to find out how much fertilizer their plants need. Fertilizer recommendations have traditionally been "one-size-fits-all" regardless of the variety being grown. Recommendations are based on years of field research data, collected primarily from the Chandler strawberry cultivar. Recently, however, farmers growing a newer cultivar 'Camarosa' have experienced problems that may be related to fertilization.
To respond to farmer feedback and to investigate their concerns, NCDA&CS agronomists have initiated a two-year field study. They have established on-farm tests in three locations across eastern North Carolina to compare how 'Camarosa' and 'Chandler' respond to three sets of fertilizer treatments.
NCDA&CS agronomist Peter Hight and grower John Vollmer are conducting a test near Bunn. Agronomist David Dycus is working with grower Jimmy Lee of Brickhaven, and agronomist Rick Morris is cooperating with growers Bill, Joe and Weldon Edmunds of Chadbourn.
The results of these tests could change the way strawberry fertilization recommendations are made. If the two strawberry varieties turn out to need different amounts of fertilizer, additional field tests may be conducted for other cultivars. Also, growers may have to provide more details regarding the cultivars they intend to plant when they fill out information forms for soil and plant tissue samples.
"It is more important than ever that growers use just the right amount of fertilizer to produce high yields of top quality fruit," said Dr. Bobby Walls, chief of the Agronomic Division's Plant, Waste and Solution section. "Efficient fertilizer use is critical to management of the strawberry crop. It helps growers financially, gives consumers a better product and helps protect the environment."
For these reasons, the NCDA&CS Agronomic Division will continue its efforts to provide growers throughout the state with the best advisory services possible by responding to and acting on their feedback. To contact the division about crop fertilization issues, call the Raleigh office at (919) 733-2655 or visit the Web site at www.ncagr.com/agronomi/.