NC State Extension Publications

Problem:

Nutritional disorder – nitrogen (N) deficiency

Symptoms

Lower leaves initially develop a pale green to light yellow (chlorosis) coloration. With advancing symptoms, the light yellow coloration becomes more intense yellow and expands to cover most of lower leaves. Severe deficiencies result in necrotic leaves and leaf drop. Some older leaves may also develop an orange to reddish coloration.

Plants appear stunted, runners shorter and leaf size is smaller. The petiole may develop a red cast and the fruit calyx may become red too.

Initial symptoms of nitrogen deficiency.

Initial symptoms of nitrogen deficiency.

Brian E. Whipker  CC BY - 4.0

Close up of initial symptoms of nitrogen deficiency.

Close up of initial symptoms of nitrogen deficiency.

Brian E. Whipker  CC BY - 4.0

Moderate symptoms of nitrogen deficiency.

Moderate symptoms of nitrogen deficiency.

Brian E. Whipker  CC BY - 4.0

Advanced symptoms of nitrogen deficiency.

Advanced symptoms of nitrogen deficiency.

Brian E. Whipker  CC BY - 4.0

Lower leaf red coloration with nitrogen deficiency.

Lower leaf red coloration with nitrogen deficiency.

Brian E. Whipker  CC BY - 4.0

Necrosis on the lower leaves with nitrogen deficiency.

Necrosis on the lower leaves with nitrogen deficiency.

Brian E. Whipker  CC BY - 4.0

Smaller plant size with nitrogen deficiency (plant at the right)

Smaller plant size with nitrogen deficiency (plant at the right).

Brian E. Whipker  CC BY - 4.0

Similar Problems

Symptoms of phosphorus deficiency can also result in lower leaf orange to reddish coloration. Impaired phosphorus update may be due to the lack of sufficient phosphorus, cold growing temperatures, water logged soils or root rot.

Additional Information

Because symptoms can occur due to many possible causes, it is important to determine the actual cause in order to correct the deficiency.

Diagnostic Tips

Take a soil sample to determine if nutrient levels are inadequate. Submit a leaf sample for nutrient analysis. The sufficiency range for nitrogen in strawberries is between 2.0 and 4.0%. Values lower than 1.9% can lead to deficient conditions. Levels above 4.0% are considered excessive.

Corrective Measures

Take a soil and tissue test to determine nutrient levels. Make adjustments based on those test results and the lab’s recommendations.

Management

Conduct a soil test prior to planting the crop to determine if pre-plant fertilizer applications are required. Fertilizer can also be injected to the crop during active growth. Recommendations vary by soil type and your location, so check with local resources for guidelines

Funding Sources

Funding was provided in part by the National Sustainable Agriculture Program: Sustainable Strawberry Initiative and the following sources.

A thank you is also expressed to Kube Pak of Allentown, New Jersey for donating strawberry plants.

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Author:

Professor
Department of Horticulural Science

Publication date: April 23, 2014

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