Growing Strawberry
Crop Nutrition Advice

Everything you need to know about strawberry fertilization, best practice, suitable products, field trials and more.

Advice for growing Strawberry (Fragaria ananassa)

  • Strawberries perform best in soils with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5.

  • In soils with a high pH (above 7.5), a deficiency of phosphorus mainly but also of other micronutrients may appear.

  • In soils with a low pH (below 5.5), a deficiency of phosphorus, Mo, and Ca may appear.

  • Best yields are obtained when strawberries are grown on deep, fertile soil, rich in organic matter.

  • Strawberries are very sensitive to root asphyxia, to avoid this phenomenon strawberries are usually planted on mounds.

  • Below 14 degrees the development and quality of flowers can be affected.

  • Irrigation is essential for high yielding strawberry production. The plant’s root system is shallow, with 80–90% in the top 15 cm of clay, and 50% in the top 15 cm of well-drained sandy loam soils. Therefore, frequent and short irrigation pulses are necessary to maximize production.

  • Drip irrigation is the most used method of feeding. Indeed, it allows to precisely dose the amount of water but it also allows the supply of nutrients thanks to the use of water-soluble fertilizer.

Detail of strawberry

View of industrial strawberry crop

Role of nutrients


Promotes high yields and ensures vegetative growth of the crop

Plays a key role in synthesis of proteins, which are directly involved in growth and yield.


Promotes development of a good root system. A prerequisite for flowering and hence- number and maintenance of fruits.

Essential for appropriate energy management in the plant. Enhances cell division.


Enhances transport of sugars to the fruits. A cofactor of tens of enzymes. Regulates water management, mainly through stomata aperture.

Enhances sugar content of the fruit. Reduces susceptibility to many kinds of abiotic-, and biotic- stresses. Improves deep fruit color, firm flesh, shape, and overall yields.


Promotes cell-wall stability, hence providing the plant a strong structure, and resistance to diseases.

Adequate calcium prevents blossom-end rot (BER). It also provides improved shelf life.


Is the central part of the chlorophyll molecule, playing a key role in photosynthesis. Increases Fe utilization.

Carrier of phosphorus in the plant. It is both an enzyme activator and a constituent of many enzymes. Helps obtaining a deep green fruit color.


A structural component of proteins and peptides. Active in the conversion of inorganic N into protein.

A structural component of various enzymes. A catalyst in chlorophyll production.


Essential for proteins and chlorophyll synthesis. Important factor in many enzymes, associated with energy transfer and respiratory systems.


Important roles in photosynthesis: Hill reaction (H2O splitting), electron transport, CO2 assimilation. Formation of riboflavin, ascorbic acid, and carotene.


Translocation of sugars and carbohydrates. Pollination and seed production. Cell division and cell-wall formation, related to Ca uptake and usage.

Nutrient deficiencies


Both vegetative growth and fruit production are severely restricted.  Light green to yellow leaves., younger leaves are still quite green from N mobilized from older leaves.
Dark red & purple & yellow to light-green leaves. Yield is reduced and fruit are pale, short and thick.


P deficient plants have weak roots, are stunted, and produce small dark, dull, grey-green leaves.  Leaves become purple-to-brown on their entire blade or on their distal margins (see photos).  Fruit set is reduced, thus impairing production, Phosphorus deficiency is most common when soil pH is too low (7.0).


The old leaves are the most sensitive ones, they exhibit marginal burning and a dark discoloration.  The extension of the petiole into the central leaflet darkens, and the bases of the other leaflets become necrotic too. The serrated tips and margins of the older leaves redden and dry up. It gradually advances inwards between the veins until most of the leaf blade is affected.


Youngest leaves cup downwards and their edges become scorched. Stunting and necrosis of the youngest leaves and of growing points at top of the plant. Marginal leaf yellowing can also occur at more severe deficiencies.   Mature and older leaves are generally unaffected. Severe deficiency causes flowers abortion, and death of the growing point, runners and petioles may develop darken lesions.   Fruits are smaller and have a hard texture, root growth is also less.  Leaf tip burn and puckering helps to distinguish this disorder from B deficiency which results in distorted and thicker leaves.


Yellowing of older leaves, beginning between the major veins, which retain a narrow green border, in severe situations, a light tan burn develops in the yellow regions. Younger leaves are less affected. Fruits from Mg- deficient plants appear are lighter in color and softer in texture. Yields are reduced. Deficiency is revealed mainly in fields that have received high N or K fertilizer rates.


Yellowing appears on younger leaves first and is distinctly interveinal. All other leaves remain dark green. In severe deficiency, the minor veins also fade, and the leaves may eventually burn, especially if exposed to strong sun light. Up until the time the leaves become almost completely white, they will recover upon application of iron. Most often observed when growing in alkaline (pH > 7.0), or calcareous soils, and can be induced also by over-liming, poor drainage, or high concentrations of metallic ions in the soil or nutrient solution.


Phosphorus deficiencies                       


Magnesium deficiencies                              


Chlorine sensitivity

Strawberry is considered to be one of the most sensitive crops to salinity in general, and specifically to chloride.  

Cl affected leaves show dry and brown leaf margins, brittle leaves, stunted plant growth, dead roots and plants.  

The maximum permissible chloride level in the soil solution in most cases is 5–7 meq/L, and it somewhat varies by variety. Maximum permissible chloride in irrigation water is 3–5 meq/L.  

Chloride higher than 0.5% in the dry matter of the plant indicates chloride toxicity. 

Fertilization methods

Fertigation drip irrigation in open fields and protected management 

As drip irrigation is so common with this crop, fertilization is generally done by fertigation, using fully-soluble fertilizers, adapting the N-P-K-Ca-Mg ratios according to the crop’s needs at every growth stage. 

In soil the needs of the Strawberry must be covered by  : 

  1. Elements naturally present in irrigation water
  2. Elements already present un the soil
  3. Additional fertilizer inputs to the soil
  4. Additional Fertilizer intake by drip

Strawberry needs = Soil input ( stock or mineralization for example) + Water elements + Fertilizers put on the soil + supplements during cultivation ( soluble fertilizers)

Foliar feeding  

This is a common practice in fertilizing strawberries, by tank-mixing the fertilizers with crop-protection products. Foliar feeding boosts plant development, strengthening the plants against abiotic factors (e.g. drought, heat, cold soils), and against biotic factors (e.g. nematodes, pests and diseases), and to correct mineral deficiencies.     

Controlled- release fertilizers for strawberry fields 

The use of CRFs for strawberry crops is expanding rapidly, as a result of the need to save on workload and increase field productivity. In the US for example, the usage of N-P-K CRFs has caught quickly, and is now practiced over 55% of the 26,000 country-wide hectares, concentrated mainly in California. 

Normally, one pre-plant application of well-designed CRF granules, like Agroblen, can supply the majority share of the crop’s mineral requirements, achieving high yields of ~ 60 MT/ha of high-quality produce for fresh consumption. Application of additional WSF by fertigation is also common. 

Soilless management in glasshouses 

Strawberries responds very well to intensive nutrition regime under controlled, protected environment, as done with exceptional success in Holland. 

Specific nutrition formulae have been adapted to growth on soilless. 

It is difficult to give fertilization advice above ground, indeed for precise fertilization advice, a water analysis is mandatory as well as the needs of the variety. 

In soilless the needs of the strawberry must be covered by : 

  • Elements naturally present in the irrigation water 
  • Additional fertilizer intake by drip 

Strawberry Needs = Water elements + Supplements during cultivation (soluble fertilizers)

Water analysis is essential to make fertilization advice 

Related Trials

Strawberry in Colombia
Sotara, Cauca State, Colombia, 2019


Yield Increase


Here are some frequently asked questions we received from farmers regarding strawberries.

  • Generally the first applications of water soluble fertilizer after planting takes place 15 days after planting.

  • No, You can not mix calcium nitrate with a phosphorus product in the same tank. This may precipitate and clog your drippers. If you do not have two injection tank use Agrolution Special. Agrolution Special is a unique wsf product range with NPK + Ca + MgO in the same product.

Do you have more questions?