Frequently asked questions about strawberry fertilising

I want to grow strawberries. How should I get my land ready?

Start six months before planting by cultivating the soil, and applying fertilisers and lime according to soil analysis results. Then follow the recommended schedule of green manure cropping, cultivation, soil analysis, fertilising for nutrient adjustment, cultivation and fumigation.

I want to grow strawberries but don't have time to plant green manure crops etc. What should I do?

Get a soil analysis done immediately, and then apply lime and fertiliser as recommended in the analysis. Use some pelleted poultry manure together with manufactured fertilisers. The lack of a green manure crop usually means you should expect lower plant performance.

Should I fumigate my soil before I plant?

I you have not experienced any problems with soil-borne diseases or nematodes, fumigation is not essential. However, if these pests are a problem, fumigation can help achieve better plant establishment and growth, and improve yields.

What fumigant should I use?

Methyl bromide, the chemical traditionally used to fumigate strawberry beds is no longer available. An alternative chemical is 1,3-dichloropropene plus chloropicrin (Telone C-35), which has performed well in strawberry trials. We recommend that an experienced contractor with specialised equipment applies this chemical to the soil as it needs to be applied very carefully and evenly to achieve good results. This chemical is available only to accredited operators who attend an appropriate training course.

Other chemicals that have also given good results are metham sodium (Metham, Metham Sodium) and metham potassium (Envirofume). All these chemicals have significant residual activity in the soil after treatment. The product label gives the minimum plant back time for the fumigant - as much as 6-12 weeks between treatment and planting may be needed during cold and/or wet weather. Treatment should be done as early as possible before planting. A lettuce seed germintaion test is recommended to check for residual phytotocity.

Can I put my fertiliser through the irrigation system?

Yes, if you use soluble fertilisers suitable for such applications.

Can I use foliar fertiliser on strawberries?

Yes, but do not rely on it as the only way to apply fertiliser to the plant. Some nutrients are not well absorbed through the leaves and plants prefer to take up nutrients through their roots. Foliar fertilisers can be useful as a tonic, such as when a heavy flush of fruit is being produced. Use it to apply magnesium and boron, which are important nutrients for strawberry plants. The rates and timing of foliar fertilisers should be based on leaf or sap analysis results.