There are several methods of growing strawberries of which plasticulture is but one, although it is gaining in popularity due to reduced labor with weeding and removal of runners/stolons. Preplant preparation of the beds to be planted to strawberries is essential to a successful harvest, and major applications of soil amendments should be done a month or more prior to planting. Strawberries grow best in a well-drained soil with a pH of 5.8 to 6.5 and organic matter above 2%. It should be noted that this program is presented as a guideline only based upon research and the experiences with many growers. With the wide variances possible from both soil types and environmental conditions present during any particular season, your actual recommendation may vary from what is presented. It is always advisable to discuss actual management practices with your local ISP specialist.
Dry or Bulk Fertilizer: Apply approximately 50% of your expected nutrient requirements as granular materials prior to planting. Depending upon yield goal, research shows the following annual nutrient requiresments, 120-140 units of nitrogen, 130 units of P2O5, and 215-230 units of K2O per acre. Depending upon soil nutrient levels, apply 40-60 units N, 50 units P2O5, and 100 units K2O per acre and incorporate into your soil prior to bedding or laying plastic. Zinc and boron are also important trace minerals and may require special attention. Slower release nutrient sources are always preferable for granular applications to the bed.
Biological Soil Stimulants: Apply 16 ounces/acre MetaboliK HV-1 and incorporate into beds prior to laying plastic.
Transplant Solution: Transplant mix should contain: .8 pounds 10-45-10; 3 fluid ounces PhytoGro Xtra; and 2 fluid ounces MetaboliK SB per 10 gallons of solution. Water all newely planted berry plants/plugs in throughly with this solution.
Summer Applications (Many plasticulture strawberries are grown as an annual crop, so the following applications would be considered to be post-planting. If the field is kept a second year, then the following applications would be considered post-harvest.)
With a late July to early August planting: With the objective to build an aggressive plant size prior to fruit set in early fall, weekly drip applications are as follows. This application should be split between two to three fertigations per week.
10 pounds 28-16-7,
3 pounds 10-20-20 or 9-14-24,
4 fluid ounces MetaboliK SB
Fruit Set Foliar, Mid – August Foliar:
8-10 pounds 10-20-20,
2-4 ounces MetaboliK HV-1.
Setting/Maintaining Fruit Size Foliar:
2-4oz MetaboliK HV-1.
Prior to Dormancy (Prior to Frost) Foliar:
10 pounds/acre 11-28-18 or 4-18-38
(NOTE: The primary difference with plasticulture/plug production, is that if planting bare root, it would be advisable to plant somewhat earlier in the summer season. It is essential that the plants have time to not only become established, but to grow a good vegetative structure to collect the energy necessary for high fruit initiation.
Drip Application – First Application After Uncovering:
3 pounds 9-14-24, and 10 pounds 28-16-7, and 4 ounces SiGuard, and 4 fluid ounces MetaboliK HV-1, and 4 fluid ounces MagnaBor 10. (Repeat every week until buds begin to form.)
Foliar – 1 Week After Breaking Dormancy:
3 pounds 10-45-10, 2 pounds 28-16-7, 16 fluid ounces PhytoGro Xtra, ½ cup SiMag58, and 8 fluid ounces MetaboliK SB (or 4 fluid ounces MetaboliK HV-1). (Repeat 2 weeks later, adding 32 ounces MetaCal or CalStore.
Bud Formation Foliar:
3 pounds 10-20-20, 1-2 pounds 9-14-24, 1-2 pounds 28-16-7, ½ cup SiMag58, 8 fluid ounces MetaboliK SB, (or 4 fluid ounces MetaboliK HV-1), and 4 fluid ounces MagnaBor 10.
Bud Formation – Through Drip Lines (Weekly):
10-20 pounds 4-18-38, (Start at 10, and increase by 2 pounds per week through harvest.), 2-4- pounds 9-14-24, ½ cup SiGuard, 8 fluid ounces MetaboliK SB, and 32-48 fluid ounces CalStore.
Foliar: (Weekly, and ideally would be divided into two foliar applications. Can be mixed with crop protection sprays.)
4-6 pounds 4-18-38, 3-4 pounds 9-14-24, ½ cup SiMag58, and 8 fluid ounces MetaboliK SB (or 4 fluid ounces MetaboliK HV-1.) Repeat 2 weeks later, adding 32 fluid ounces CalStore or MetaCal.
Through Drip Lines: (Weekly)
10-20 pounds 4-18-38, (Start at 10, and increase by 2 pounds per week through harvest..), 2-4 pounds 9-14-24, ½ cup SiGuard, 8 fluid ounces MetaboliK SB, and 32-48 fluid ounces CalStore.
NOTE: If leaving the berries for a second production season, follow harvest by renovating the field (mowing and removing the bulk of the vegetation). Do not leave in the field, as old or diseased vegetation can cause a higher level of disease pressure during the next season. All old vegetation should be removed either to a burn pile or a proper composting area.
Allow the field to rest for several days, then begin following the “growth” program as listed at the start of this page.