Soft fruit agronomist, Dr Neil Holmes, discusses early season drip application in soft fruit crops.
For soft fruit crops it is a time of renewal after winter dormancy. Chill units have been accumulating and now, with a change in photoperiod, new foliage will start to develop.
As new plantings get underway in strawberries and raspberries, consider applying Kobra to substrate bags or pots. Kobra contains wetting agents which reduces the surface tension of the irrigated liquid to give even moisture penetration. Begin by applying 5ml Kobra/L of stock tank fluid in the first application, reducing to 0.1ml Kobra/L in subsequent fertigation cycles. This makes it a very economical method of wetting up coir.
See the table below for the stock tank inclusion rates assuming feeding at a ratio of 1:100.
Freshly planted soft fruit crops present a relatively small target area for foliar feeding initially therefore stimulate establishment and root development with stock tank applications of O-Phyte and Kelpak.
O-Phyte has been scientifically proven to improve concentrations of chlorophylls, amino acids and proteins after root application1. Potassium phosphite can also improve the uptake of cations such as calcium, magnesium and iron. For stock tank inclusion apply at 3-6ml O-Phyte/L.
Early applications of Kelpak have been shown by Delphy and in grower trials to improve rooting and build a bigger plant. In grower trials, an OMEX programme consisting of foliar applications of Kelpak and CalMax Ultra improved ever bearer strawberry yields by 9% when compared against an untreated control and 2.5% when compared against a commercial alternative. For stock tank inclusion apply 3ml Kelpak/L or consider root dipping bare root/ plug plants in a Kelpak solution of 10 ml Kelpak/L.
To find out more about drip application in soft fruit crops, contact your local OMEX technical manager, here.
1 Estrada-Ortiz et al., (2013). The effects of phosphite on strawberry yield and fruit quality. Journal of soil science and plant nutrition. 13 (3), 612-620.