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  • Author or Editor: Mark P. Bolda x
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In strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa), initial bare-root crown diameter and early-season flower cluster removal have been two factors suspected of influencing fruit yield and size. This study evaluated the effect of these two factors on the day-neutral strawberry varieties Monterey and Cabrillo. Bare-root crowns with three different diameters were categorized into small (< 0.5 cm), medium (> 0.5 to 1 cm), and large (> 1 cm) at planting. Each of the crown diameter treatments was split into two plots for flower removal or no flower removal in the early season and data on canopy diameter, fruit yield, and fruit size collected in the subsequent months of production. The study was conducted over two growing seasons (2019–20 and 2020–21). No difference was found in plant canopy diameters measured in February, ∼3 months after planting, between any of the treatments in either year. Although early-season flower removal and some crown sizes resulted in lower fruit yield in March and April, none of these treatments resulted in any fruit yield or size differences in subsequent months nor in season end totals.

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Diagnosis and recommendation integrated system (DRIS) leaf blade and petiole optimum nutrient ranges were developed through tissue sampling in 53 commercial strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) fields in the coastal valleys of central California in 2010 and 2011. All fields were in an annual production system using the day-neutral cultivar Albion. Leaf blades and petioles were sampled five times from early flowering through the fruit harvest period. Data on soil nutrient availability and grower fertilization practices were also collected. DRIS analysis was used to develop nutrient optimum ranges based on nutrient concentrations observed in nutritionally balanced, high-yield fields. Blade nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) concentrations declined from the vegetative stage until the main harvest period, and stabilized thereafter. Blade calcium (Ca), boron (B), and iron (Fe) increased over time while magnesium (Mg), sulfur (S), manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), and copper (Cu) decreased. The blade N optimum range was lower than previously published sufficiency ranges during the fruit harvest period, and the Zn optimum range was lower throughout the season. Other nutrients were in general agreement with previously established sufficiency ranges with the exception of Ca, Mn, and Fe, which were higher. Petiole nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N) was highly variable among high-yield fields, was not correlated with soil NO3-N at any growth stage, and was therefore of limited value as an indicator of crop N status. Comparison of soil nutrient availability with grower fertilization practices suggested that significant improvement in fertilizer management was possible.

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