- Author: Mark Bolda
- Author: Michael Cahn
The recent flooding on the Central Coast has really put a lot of local strawberry growers in a bad position. Some fields have been underwater several days to a week or more, which has deprived plants of oxygen and sunlight needed for respiration and growth. As these plants try to recover, they will likely be severely set back for several weeks. Other fields that were briefly flooded are silted over and have completely saturated soils.
Looking beyond our current conditions of just too much water, we need think about what the plan of action is going to be going forward into the spring. Since in many areas strawberry plants have been set back because they were in saturated, anaerobic soil, growers will need to turn their attention to jump starting growth in their fields once the ground dries out, and becomes aerobic again.
It will be important at this time to think about nutrition. It's a fair bet that even fields that received pre-plant fertilizer lost a significant amount of nitrogen from the soil during the flooding and unprecedented rains during the last few months. We could be wrong about this, so the first thing growers and farm managers should do once they are back out in the fields is take a soil sample and check the mineral N levels, especially the concentration of nitrate, which is the form of nitrogen that strawberry readily take up. Nitrate-N will also mineralize from the soil organic matter and any organic amendments that were previously incorporated in the soil as the soil becomes oxygenated again. Soil samples should be collected from 8 to 12 locations in the field from the 0 to 12-inch depth in or near the plant row and composited together. A subsample of the composited soil should be analyzed for mineral forms of nitrogen (nitrate and ammonium). We recommend using the soil nitrate quick test to assess the soil nitrate status of your fields in a timely manner. Please refer to this previous article on the how to accurately measure soil nitrate using the quick test. If you intend to send the soil to a laboratory that can quickly analyze the soil, we suggest shipping the soil sample with blue ice so that it stays cold to prevent mineralization of N in transit. The laboratory should analyze the sample for both ammonium and nitrate, the two mineral forms of nitrogen that are in the soil.
If the soil nitrate values are below 10 ppm nitrate-N then the plants will likely benefit from an addition of N fertilizer. Fertilizers containing nitrate forms of N such as CAN-17, UAN32, or ammonium nitrate would be good to add so that the strawberry plants can immediately take up nitrogen, which should help jump start growth. The urea and ammonium contained in fertilizer will also mineralize to nitrate, but due to the recent anaerobic conditions and cold soil temperatures, this process may be slower than normal.
Since this might be the first time that you've run your irrigation system in a while, it'll be good to check before fertigating to ensure that everything is in good order. Check for broken connections between drip lines and the submains (layflat, oval hose). Check that valves and pipes are still connected and unbroken and that the pump is functioning well. These will be all good items to check before putting this system to work after such a long hiatus.
- Author: David Alamillo
Through Wednesday, California is expecting rounds of heavy rain, mountain snow, high winds, with potential for flooding, downed trees/debris and power outages. Please stay safe.
If you live near a river, levee or area prone to flooding, gather your essentials so you'll be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice. You'll have some peace of mind if you have gathered items in advance to be away from your home if evacuation orders are given by authorities. Also, prepare for power outages by having electronic devices charged, vehicles fueled, and the ability to prepare food and stay warm.
This is a good time to review your procedures for preparedness, such as the ability to stay informed and to be able to communicate. See Safety Note #203 for winter storm preparedness tips.
Click here to view the Cal-OES weather threat briefing.
A Safety Note series in the category of “Disaster/Emergency Information” is available at https://safety.ucanr.edu/Safety_Notes/- recommended are notes #166-169, #189 and #203.
For current weather alert information, Cal/OSHA recommends the NOAA Weather Alerts page at http://alerts.weather.gov/cap/ca.php?x=1.
Environmental Health & Safety Specialist
- Author: Michael D Cahn
Erin Dicaprio, Associate Professor of Cooperative Extension, Department of Food Science and Technology, University of California Davis has summarized information and resources for assessing crop food safety after a flooding event. There are links to the Leafy Green Marketing Agreement Flood fact sheet and also a presentation made by Trevor Suslow, emeritus UC Cooperative Extension Specialist. Please follow the link below.
- Author: Ben Faber
What Can Happen With Too Much Rain? And Mud?
Rain is wonderful stuff. If it comes and washes the accumulated salts of the last several years out of the root zones of citrus and avocado, that's a good thing. But what happens if there is a little too much of the good stuff? In the winter of 2005, Venture got over 40” of rain, which is 200% of what is normal. The last time big rains occurred prior to that was in the winter of 1997-98. That year the rains were evenly spaced on almost a weekly basis through the winter and into the late spring and over 50" fell. That year we had major problems with both citrus and avocados collapsing from asphyxiation. The same occurred in 2005, but not so pronounced.
This winter we have had a lot more rain than we normally see and in some young trees with poorly developed root systems, we have seen some collapse.from asphyxiation. Avocados tend to be more susceptible than citrus, and some rootstocks more than others. We have also had some trees buried in mud slides, which can also lead to asphyxiation.
Asphyxiation is a physiological problem that may affect certain branches, whole limbs or the entire tree. Leaves wilt and may fall, the fruit withers and drops and the branches die back to a greater or lesser extent. The condition develops so rapidly that it may be regarded as a form of collapse. Usually, the larger stems and branches remain alive, and after a time, vigorous new growth is put out so that the tree tends to recover. Young trees can be harder hit, but sunburn damage from lack of leaves may be more of a problem.
Asphyxiation is related to the air and water conditions of the soil. The trouble appears mainly in fine-textured or shallow soils with impervious sub-soils. In 1997-98, this even occurred on slopes with normally good drainage because the rains were so frequent. When such soils are over-irrigated or wetted by rains, the water displaces the soil oxygen. The smaller roots die when deprived of oxygen. When the stress of water shortage develops, the impaired roots are unable to supply water to the leaves rapidly enough and the tree collapses. The condition is accentuated when rainy weather is followed by winds or warm conditions. These are exactly the conditions we have seen in the last two weeks, hence some of the problems in young orchards on heavier soils.
It doesn't take standing water to have asphyxiation occur.
Canopy treatment in less severe instances of asphyxiation consists of cutting back the dead branches to live wood. If leaf drop has been excessive, the tree should be whitewashed to prevent sunburn. Fruit, if mature should be harvested as soon as possible to prevent loss. In the case of young trees, less than two years of age, recovery sometimes does not occur, and replanting should be considered if vigorous regrowth does not occur by July. As soon as defoliation is evident, whitewashing should be done to protect them to give them a chance for recovery.
Asphyxiation can be reduced by proper planting and grading. If an impervious layer is identified, it should be ripped prior to planting. The field should be graded so that water has somewhere to run off the field during high rainfall years. Heavier soils might require planting on berms or mounds so that the crown roots have a better chance of being aerated.
Hindsight is always great. Post-plant, if an impervious layer can be identified and is shallow enough to break through, ripping alongside the tree or drilling 4-6 inch post holes at the corners of the tree canopy can improve drainage. It is important that the ripper blade or auger gets below the impervious layer for this technique to be effective. If there is a thick layer of mulch reducing soil evaporation, pulling it back to allow the sun to help dry it out faster will help. It's not a lot of work with small trees, but big time work if it's big trees with thick mulch.
Asphyxiated tree that has been whitewashed
In the case of trees being buried, especially covering the bud union, they should be dug out as soon as practical.They need to be dug out down to the original ground level about 3 feet out from trunk. Then over time, excavated out about 6-8 feet from trunk. It doesn't have to be done today, but soon, before the weather heats up and transpiration demand increases. So in the next month at latest. Start slow and gradually the mud can be moved out further from the tree.
Trees buried above bud union that need to have soil removed down to original soil level.
- Author: Melissa G. Womack
- Author: Missy Gable
[From the UC Master Gardener Program Statewide Blog]
Proper irrigation and drainage are critically important for the health of plants and trees. But what happens when Mother Nature throws an atmospheric river curveball, and your yard or garden is now under water from heavy rains or floods?
Good garden soil contains a network of pore spaces filled with water and air. Both are necessary for healthy roots and beneficial soil-dwelling organisms. When the pore spaces fill with water, air is no longer available to the root system, and the roots become susceptible to root-rot organisms. Understanding the effects of flooding on plant health and caring for them after a flood event is important to saving your plants and garden.
Once the floodwaters have receded, assess the damage to your garden and begin the recovery process. There are a few things you can do to minimize the damage to your plants from flooding:
- Remove any debris, such as mud and silt, that may have shifted and accumulated on your plants.
- If the soil is waterlogged, improve drainage by digging ditches or furrows to redirect water away from plants.
- Check the soil for compaction and loosen it up with a garden fork. This will help to improve drainage and make it easier for water and nutrients to reach the roots of your plants.
- Wait until the soil dries out before working with it in order to reduce additional compaction. Avoid walking on waterlogged soil to prevent compaction and further root damage. Stay off a boggy lawn!
- Inspect your plants for damage to the roots, leaves, and stems. Remove any damaged parts, and prune your plants back to healthy growth if necessary.
- Remove contaminated material. Consider that any garden produce touched by floodwater may be contaminated and discard it. While the risk of contamination is low in residential areas, runoff from septic systems, pastures, or industrial areas can carry potentially harmful microbes and chemicals.
- Monitor your plants closely for signs of stress, such as wilting or discoloration, and address any issues that arise as soon as possible.
- Once dry, start to water your plants gently and gradually to help them acclimate to the new soil conditions.
Connect with us!
Recovering from a flood can be a difficult and time-consuming process, but with proper care and attention, your garden can recover and thrive. The UC Master Gardener Program is available to help! For gardening questions and local county resources, click here to Find a Program. You will be redirected to your local county website and contact information.
Source: Flood: Plant Stress in Extreme Wet Conditions, https://marinmg.ucanr.edu/PROBLEMS/EXTREME_CONDITIONS/Flood/