Influence of Rate, Timing, and Method of Nitrogen Fertilizer Application on Uptake and Use of Fertilizer Nitrogen, Growth, and Yield of June-bearing Strawberry

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science

Fertilizer nitrogen (FN) recovery, and changes in nitrogen (N) and dry weight partitioning were studied over three fruiting seasons in June-bearing strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch. `Totem') grown in a matted row system. Fertilizer nitrogen treatments were initiated in 1999, the year after planting. The standard ammonium nitrate N application at renovation (55 kg·ha-1 of N) was compared to treatments where additional N was applied. Supplemental treatments included both ground-applied granular ammonium nitrate (28 kg·ha-1 of N) applied early in the season and foliar urea [5% (weight/volume); 16 kg·ha-1 of N] applied early in the season and after renovation. When labeled N was applied (eight of nine treatments) it was applied only once. The impact of no FN from the second through the third fruiting season was also evaluated. Fertilizer nitrogen treatment had no impact on total plant dry weight, total plant N, yield or fruit quality from the first through the third fruiting seasons. Net dry matter accumulation in the first fruiting season was 2 t·ha-1 not including the 4 t·ha-1 of dry matter removed when leaves were mowed during the renovation process. Seasonal plant dry weight and N accumulation decreased as the planting aged. Net nitrogen accumulation was estimated at 40 kg·ha-1 from spring growth to dormancy in the first fruiting season (including 30 kg·ha-1 in harvested fruit, but not including the 52 kg·ha-1 of N lost at renovation). Recovery of fertilizer N ranged from 42% to 63% for the broadcast granular applications and 15% to 52% for the foliar FN applications, depending on rate and timing. Fertilizer N from spring applications (granular or foliar) was predominantly partitioned to leaves and reproductive tissues. A large portion of the spring applied FN was lost when plants were mowed at renovation. Maximum fertilizer use efficiency was 42% for a granular 55 kg·ha-1 application at renovation, but declined to 42% just before plant growth the following spring, likely a result of FN loss in leaves that senesced. In June, ≈30% of the N in strawberry plants was derived from FN that was applied at renovation the previous season, depending on year. This stored FN was reallocated to reproductive tissues (22% to 35%) and leaves (43% to 53%), depending on year. Applying fertilizer after renovation increased the amount of remobilized N to new growth the following spring. The following June, 15% of plant nitrogen was derived from fertilizer applied at renovation 2 years prior.

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