Let's get to know the strawberry better.
Producing strawberries is not easy and competition between cultivation areas is fierce. Characteristics such as sheen, consistency, aroma, sweetness, acidity, and of course authenticity are essential. There are environmental factors, such as climate temperature, irrigation water with a low conductivity (EC), soil drainage, exposure to wind and/or varietal characteristics which are a great help in agriculture.
However, producers themselves must be extremely competent in terms of the protection and nutrition of the crop. In order for the strawberry to be profitable, it is necessary to achieve a production of at least 600 grams per plant, and to be acknowledged and in demand on the market, it is necessary to maintain a high, if not excellent quality. Nothing can be left to chance, because although the strawberry, if cultivated well, produces large and good crops, it is at the same time demanding, delicate, and sensitive.
The strawberry is a challenging crop. Below are a number of characteristics explaining its complexity.
The strawberry is very sensitive to changes in salinity, so it is important to constantly monitor the EC of the nutrient solution and the soil or substrate. If, during the production phase, the salinity falls to below 1.1 ms/cm EC, the quality of the fruit is affected immediately (inferior flavour and poor consistency). By contrast, EC levels in excess of 1.7 ms/cm will reduce yield (at 1.9 ms/cm, the loss could be between 20% and 25%). Excesses in salinity should be avoided, particularly in the initial post- transplant phases: 1.2/1.3 ms/cm is the correct EC level to maintain, from the second week up until the first flowering, whereas an increase to 1.5 ms/cm is recommended from flowering, up until the end of picking.
The strawberry favours a sub-acidic soil (pH 5.5-7). If cultivated in alkaline conditions (pH >7.5-8), some varieties are subject to iron deficiency. With well water rich in bicarbonates (HCO3> 100 mg/l) it is necessary to acidify to lower the EC and prevent the insolubility of P, Zn, and Ca, which are otherwise no longer available to the crop.
Also as far as irrigation is concerned, extremes should be avoided: a dry period, even a brief one, can halt production of the fruits, while too much water reduces the amount of oxygen in the roots, exposing the crop to fungal attack. To remedy the accumulation of salts (increased by capillarity in hot periods) cultivating the strawberry on very well-draining soil is recommended, in order to be able to occasionally rinse the area traversed by the crop roots.
To fertigate correctly, you first of all need water with an EC level of less than 0.9 ms/cm. Secondly, the purity and the low EC of the fertilizers is important. The preparation of the nutrient solution should take water analysis readings into account. The nutrients can be administered either through nutrient solutions using water-soluble bases (solution A-B) or through ready-to-use water-soluble NPK. If water-soluble NPK is used, and the water is hard and rich in bicarbonates and calcium, it is necessary to use a water-soluble product with a strong acidifying capacity, containing increased levels of P, Fe, and trace elements. By contrast, with neutral or slightly hard water, a water-soluble product containing all the nutrient elements including Ca and Mg must be used.
As an indication, the total units of fertilizer - kg/hectare -to administer across the whole of the cultivation cycle of the strawberry are as follows:
How to feed the strawberry plant
To feed the strawberry plant, water-soluble fertilizers are needed which have certain properties. In particular, it is important that:
- They have a low electrical conductivity
- They are capable of reducing bicarbonates in the water
- They react vigorously to acid
- They are based on extremely pure raw materials
For these reasons, when strawberry growers contact them for technical support, the experts at ICL Specialty Fertilizers recommend using Agrolution. Agrolution is a full range of technically advanced water-soluble fertilizers particularly suited to strawberries.
Why Agrolution for strawberries?
- It is simple to use
- It is comprehensive, and adapted to all types of water: the all-in-one solution.
- Two, at most three, products are enough to see the crop through to completion
For the growers' convenience, there are products specifically for hard water and products for normal and slightly alkaline water.
Normal water, slightly alkaline:
Both lines acidify the nutrient solution and allow fertigation by way of a unique container. This applies both to strawberries grown without soil and those grown outdoors in the full soil. Agrolution products allow controlled administration of calcium, since the various formulas available have been researched to ensure the continuous supply of this element to the strawberries.
|Calcium is supplied:|
|Formulas from 2% to 14% CaO||Formulas which make available the calcium that is present in the irrigation water, in the form of calcium bicarbonate|
Hard water 10-50-10+trace elements
(> 300 mg/l of HCO3-)
Neutral or slightly alkaline water
(<300 mg/l of HCO3-)