Drip Irrigation and Fertigation in Strawberries

James E. Boudreaux, Quebedeaux, Joey P., Bracy, Regina P., Benjamin, Sandra H.  |  11/17/2005 11:46:36 PM

Lousiana Strawberries

The correct use of drip irrigation provides an ideal soil moisture level for plant growth. The irrigation time interval depends on the rate of water evaporation, temperature, the stage of plant development and the flow rate of the drip tube. The irrigation interval starts out short and increases as the plant develops and the temperature rises. The demand for water is greatest during the fruit setting and fruit sizing stage. It is important for the soil to be at the ideal soil moisture level during this time to obtain high yields of high quality fruit.

Growers who are using drip irrigation for the first time are encouraged to water by a set schedule. Within time, the growers will be able to fine tune the irrigation schedule to their fields.

Growers should check their fields every 2 or 3 days to determine if the time intervals for irrigation need to be increased or decreased. The soil in the root zone (6- 8 inches deep) should be moist and form a loose ball when squeezed in your hand. The soil should never be saturated. Water should not run out from under the plastic into the middle of the row.

Drip Irrigation Schedule for Strawberries

Crop Stage

Weeks

South La. Minutes/Day1

North La. Minutes/Day

Young Plants

4-6

30

30

Growing Plants

8-10

20

20

Early Harvest

6

25

25

Main Harvest

12-16

February

30

30

March

30

40

April

50

45

May

50

60

June

70

1All time intervals for irrigation are based on the use of a drip tube with a flow rate of 1/2 gallon per minute per 100 foot.

Fertigation: Sidedressing can also be done by injecting the fertilizer through the drip lines by using an injection device. This method is known as fertigation. Growers apply some of the nitrogen fertilizer preplant (40-80 lb. of N/A) and inject the sidedressing nitrogen in equal increments from bloom and fruit set and continue to harvest. The nitrogen fertilizer is injected into the system at a rate of 3/4 pound of N/A per day or 5 1/4 pounds of N/A per week

Example: 600- 700 lb of 8-24-24/A preplant. Start fertigation 3 to 4 weeks after transplanting and continue through harvest. Inject 16 pounds of AMNO3 or 32 lb of CaNO3 or 30 KNO3 per acre per week. The greenhouse grade of CaNO3 or KNO3 is easier to dissolve and inject.

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