Giz Gaskin

Focus on fruit with the Yara's fruit and horticulture specialist Giz Gaskin

Keep up to date with the latest fruit nutrition and fertigation information with this advice from Yara's fruit and horticulture specialist Giz Gaskin.

An eye on next season's second year woody fruit crops 

27 August 2020

Post fruiting plants dedicate much of the later part of the year to bud development for the following years crop so good late season nutrition is vital for next season's crops.

YaraVita BUD BUILDER FL a wettable powder, was developed with the grower base to perform exactly this task. Feeding the developing new buds and surrounding leaves, with good mixture of Phosphorus, Magnesium, Boron and Zinc. These key minerals are required for making good and strong buds. It is important to get as much feed into the plant buds at the end of the year as it is difficult to feed the buds in the start of the following year, without running the risk of waking them up early. Feeding dormant plants has always held the risk of starting them from the winter sleep. The key issue being that once the plants have started though they can slow in growth, they can’t go backwards. This means a late frost can badly damage early waking plants, as happened earlier this year with the grape crop that were woken by early heat in February.

Once buds have woken in Spring YaraVita BUD BUILDER FL can be applied again as it continues to help the plant bud opening and early development.

Read more about fruit nutrition 

Tired looking late season fruiting crops may need a foliar feed

27 August 2020

Some of the more productive late season fruiting crops can look tired as they run through the last part of fruiting. Having translocated much of the internal nutrients to fruit production there may be little left for maintaining leaf at the end of the year. Weak plants which are planned to be taken over tend to struggle in the following years main crop as they start the year low on energy.

A simple solution for these crops is to consider using YaraVita CROPLIFT PRO a broad spectrum foliar feed containing a good balance of NPK to give an immediate boost to tired leaves. YaraVita CROPLIFT PRO as a foliar feed will not impact overall N calculations. As a targeted leaf feed it is further unlikely to change the flavour of the remaining berries as they come ripe for picking. A macro N input should be avoided at this point in time as the strawberry crop is expected to enter dormancy in autumn. With a dose of macro N its likely the plant will be too vegetative to begin the dormancy process and would most likely be damaged by November frosts. For this reason YaraVita CROPLIFT PRO offers the best solution for maintaining final strawberry harvests while boosting plant health just prior to dormancy at the end of the year.

Read more about strawberry nutrition 

End of season soil sample on kept strawberry crops

27 August 2020

The end of season is fast approaching, there is a significant benefit to planning an end of season soil or substright analysis. This should be considered as it offers the grower two separate opportunities to understand what is going on in the bag.

Firstly, when this result is compared to the earlier soil and leaf analysis, the fertigation manger can see what nutrients have been used up by the crop and what nutrients may still be left within the bag. This would allow for fine tuning of the following years ratio’s to limit next years build up. Secondly the information when combined with next year’s start test, will allow the grower to see what has happened over the winter period. Though plants remain dormant, the bags are often watered by the weather and an element of residual salts and minerals may be washed out of the bag. Combining this to the following years fertigation allows the grower the opportunity to aim to start the main crop year with as close to a clean bag as possible.

Late season soil or substright analysis can be made with Yara Analytical Services.

Read more about analysis for fruit growers 

The importance of iron application late summer early autumn strawberries

21 August 2020

Strawberry production will be in the final parts of picking at this time. Iron deficiency can normally be observed at this time on the leaf as the plant is giving most of its resources to fruit production. Iron deficiency takes time. In sever cases a foliar feed like YaraVita FERLEAF 100 can be applied to relieve the situation. For crops which will be kept through the winter and given the reduction in NPK inputs late summer into early autumn is a good timing to fertigate iron into both the bag and plant as they grow down into winter. Filling the strawberry plants with Iron now like YaraTera Rexolin Q15 a chelated product, releases the need to do so in the early part of next year when the fertigation can concentrate on nitrogen and low PK inputs though an A/B system without the complication of iron in the system.

Find more information on iron deficiency in strawberries

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How proactive commercial fruit growers monitor their crops

09 July 2020

The fruit grower must consider a system in balance, if he or she is to understand where all the nutrients are going. We will look at the full system of testing and explain at each point why it is necessary to check and what kind of problems can be experienced at each stage.

Water pre fertigation

Water is often very varied from location to location. There are three main sources of water, and a fourth which is rarely used on mass. In order of most used: bore holes, rivers & streams, mains water and rain water. Rain water does supply water to rivers and indirectly mains and bore holes, however if collected it can be considered a fourth source.

  • Bore hole water filters through the soil and rocks that make up part of the soil substructure of the area. As it filters through, it collects the nutrients from its surroundings. Much of the UK's underlying geology is calciferous. As a result bore hole water is often rich in calcium or bicarbonates. We also see heavy metals in some areas, a result of an industrial past, filtered in to the rocks.
  • River water behaves much the same way as bore hole water but the uptake is as little as the past couple of years, as opposed to 100’s of years of filtration. The geography of your river source is important. Also knowing what businesses lie up and down stream of your farm can be important to understanding the nutrient content of river water. Down stream is important to remember as your outlet water will filter back in to your river.
  • Mains water, drinking grade water considered pure, but as an irrigation source mains will contain some nutrients used by the water company to balance the water, (e.g. fluoride, previously a popular nutrient in use). Mains water is expensive to use as an irrigation source but sometime the grower has no other source.
  • Rain water, by far the best source as by contrast most rain water is completely free of nutrients at a balanced pH level, although initial outlay in the collection infrastructure makes its use less desirable. As an input irrigation water, rain water is the best.

Regardless of the type of initial irrigation water, a first water sample must be taken for a nutrient and pH. Your nutrient adviser can then work out what should be applied to the water to both buffer it and feed the crops, depending on crop stage. It is essential to know the pH as most UK water is alkaline and most soft fruit programs are acidic, by contrast most top fruit and vines are neutral to alkaline.

Water post fertigation

Once past the fertigation shed a second water sample should be taken, this sample will tell the grower if the fertigation equipment is working correctly. The equipment is normally computer controlled though it should be checked at least once per season to be sure it is calibrated correctly. Other issues which may arise include how well blended the fertigation mixture is. Mixing Calcium with Iron can be problematic as they can react to make gloopy blobs, which block the irrigation system. Using a high quality fertiliser mitigates this issue, but awareness of the potential issue means it can be monitored and managed.

Water into bag

A water into bag sample is recommended to be taken more often, such as bi-weekly or monthly. At this point the irrigation water has passed through a full system of plastic pipes and valves. The pipes can, on occasion, cause issues from debris during use, contamination of cleaning products. or if new, contamination of manufacturer products. An example of this is the use of chlorine to clean through pipes after manufacture. Should chlorine enter the fertigation system it bleaches the leaf of the crop while at the same time interfere with the E.C. readings. All growers are recommended to flush the irrigation lines at regular intervals to mitigate this issue, unless the lines are just used for the one set of crops.

Measurements in the bag

  • Electro Conductivity (E.C.) meters are a hand held device used to measure the Electro Conductivity of the root zone of the crop. E.C. meters measure the number of ions present between the points when inserted into the substrate of the bag. When using E.C. it is important to continue to sample the system. The E.C. in agriculture is ONLY a guide of what is going on. E.C. does not tell you which ions are in the bag, thus which nutrients are in high supply. It cannot distinguish between Chlorine and Nitrogen, nor can it tell you about uptake, lock up or losses. It should be considered a snapshot of the bag at that point. It is important to measure EC at the same time of day each time for consistency as E.C. can fluctuate within the day, depending on crop uptake. Most soft fruit growers or breeders recommend a target E.C., all things being correct, for a grower to stick to.
  • Leaf analysis involves collecting 100 leaves and posting them to the lab for analysis, tells the growers what the plants have actually taken up from the fertigation mixture. This is the best way to assess what the plants are doing at each stage of their development.
  • Substrate or Soil analysis is the best measure of what exactly is sitting in the bag. You would expect to find calcium, phosphorus, iron and other immovable or less available nutrients locked in the bag, though if its present you may also find chlorine locked in the bag. This measurement tells the grower if he can or cannot rely on his E.C. meter. If he can rely on the E.C. knowing what’s in the bag means he can save much money on lab analysis.

Water out of bag

The fertigation water should be set up to run out of the bag to the tune of 12% of the volume going into the bag. Water out will most likely contain NPK, though more N than anything else as its highly mobile in water. It may contain Chlorine which is a sign to soil sample the bags and attempt to trace where the contaminate is getting in to the system. Water out, if measured over time with water in, will allow the grower to see how the crop is responding to the fertigation mixture and what improvements or savings can be made against the mixture for future years.

The balanced sum of all should be zero

If the grower has all the information, a calculation can be made to show that the balanced sum of the data is zero. That means all the nutrients in the system have been accounted for. As the mixture is changed from vegetative mixture to flowering mixture, the change in E.C. and water/out measurements should define the change, in addition to looking at the crop and tasting the fruit.

Yara Analytical services for fruit growers 

Yara Analyical Services are able to conduct a complete range of analyses. For more information on any of these analyses or services please click the link below

Read more about analysis for fruit growers 

Foliar micronutrients reduce crop stress

02 April 2020

Wet years bring an increased likelihood of softer leafy growth. More nitrogen less calcium tends to increase this situation, to the benefit of sap drinking insects like aphid. Aphid take advantage of the soft cell walls piercing leaf with the proboscis and extracting the sap. Stronger leaf resists aphid better, in a normal year the aphid would be seen on the newly emerging leaf as they are much softer. Maintaining a good micronutrient regime on crops can limit the impacts of softer growth leading to decreased pest pressure.

As the weather is set to warm up from a saturated soil condition, this year will become as last year, ideal for fungal growth. Fungal pathogens are much hardier of anaerobic soil conditions, needing only warmer temperatures to begin their cycle. Plant site of infection roots, crows and lower stem will be softer in spring due to saturated soil. Combine this with softer leafy growth higher up and the fungal pathogens can land anywhere and have an impact. Expect mildew (downy more than powdery), botrytis and phytophthora (root rot) to be issues this year. The key to these is good husbandry and trying to break up the micro climate which these pathogens love. Foliar feeds like YaraVita SENIPHOS and YaraVita THIOTRAC 300 can further help to keep suppressing fungal pathogens by breaking the microclimate at leaf & fruit level, while maintaining nutrient uptake. Foliar feeding reduces the demand on the roots reliving root stress as soil condition return to a more normal state. As the roots need to get back to better root condition, feeding foliar YaraVita BIOTRAC can help reduce plant stress while at the same time add root stimulation growth from the organic plant enzymes contained with in YaraVita BIOTRAC.

Read more about benefits of foliar micronutrients

The benefit of foliar fed calcium in wet years

30 March 2020

After a wet winter, with heavy rainfall following flooding from last autumn, both soil and many pots grown fruit plants have been under saturated conditions for all the winter. The three-week forecast for the UK moving forward is less rainfall than previous years but some rain is still expected and the start of season is looking dry and slightly windier than normal. Given the weather outlook, the application of foliar fed calcium would be advantageous.

In grape and cherry crops in a high-water year, fruit issues are seen with ‘splitting’ in the fruit after fruit swell pre full ripening. This issue in both crops is caused by the same physiological condition of too much water uptake and lack of calcium uptake. Calcium is a key nutrient for strong leaf and fruit growth, its key component of cell walls.

Calcium is an immobile nutrient and is difficult for roots to take up under saturated conditions, as highly mobile nutrients are far more available to root. Further, soil microbes which would normally aid the breakdown of calcium for root uptake perform badly in saturated water due to lack of oxygen. Given the lack of uptake of calcium from root level in wet years, building and keeping good leaf is essential. The leaf can in a wet year provide both functions of photosynthesis and nutrient uptake from foliar feeding of immobile nutrients like calcium. It is important to remember that leaf must be free from deposits if it is to continue with good photosynthesis. Building up calcium on leaf will limit the ability of the leaf to perform its primary function. Therefore, the efficacy of the calcium feed used must be correctly formulated for an even spread. This is particularly important in wet years, when plants can succumb to stress more easily.

As discussed above, this year crops will need foliar application to support nutrient uptake reliving root pressure. The coverage of leaf needed to be uniform to aid efficacy and more importantly reduce deposits building up, blocking photosynthesis. All YaraVita foliar feeds are tested and formulated thoroughly to make sure they perform through the application machinery and upon contact with leaf spread uniformly, with no build up. This has been demonstrated in on cherry using the Yara foliar feed of YaraVita STOPIT.

Read more about benefits of foliar calcium

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