- Author: Mark Bolda
Just completed a full diagnosis with UCCE colleagues Jose Aguiar and Steve Koike of some stunted strawberry plants depicted below from the Coachella Valley. Steve's diagnostic lab found nothing, so we moved on to an analysis of the soil and tissue.
Same deal as what we have been starting to see up here; stunted plants, burnt leaf margins and dying plants. I ran the samples through a lab test, and sure enough the soil EC for the dead plants is 3.5 dS/m, for dying plants 3.0 dS/m and soil from healthy plants 1.6 dS/m. Seems the issue is one of a lack of volume and/or movement of water in the sick plots, because we see the easily leachable nitrates and sodium higher in the samples from the dead and dying plants (nitrates: 26 and 30 ppm; sodium: 345 and 299 ppm - yikes!) than from the soil around the healthy plants (nitrates: 9.7 ppm; sodium: 147 ppm).
1/2/2013 Update from tissue samples: Healthy plants (N 2.9%, P 0.52%, K 2.0 %, Mg 0.55%, Na 270 ppm, Cl 4100 ppm, Total S 0.29%, Fe 750 ppm , B 55 ppm); Dying plants (N 3.0%, P 0.47%, K 1.5 %, Mg 0.76%, Na 4500 ppm, Cl 11,000 ppm, Total S 0.4%, Fe 920 ppm , B 52 ppm). Chloride in the salty plants is up there, but does not compare to the 16x concentrations of sodium found there.
Strawberry growers across the state need to keep running that water until we get some rain. There is so much salt building up in these soils right now.