NC State Extension Publications

Problem

Nutritional disorder – phosphorus (P) deficiency

Symptoms

Initially plants are smaller in size (stunted). Lower leaf color often turns darker green before giving way to a dull green coloration. Under cold growing conditions, the lower can develop a lower leaf orange to reddish coloration. With warmer conditions, lower leaf symptoms may develop a yellow coloration instead.

Plants appear stunted, runners shorter, and leaf size is smaller. Fruit size may be smaller.

Stunted growth, and darker green foliage of phosphorus deficienc

Stunted growth, and darker green foliage of phosphorus deficiency.

Brian E. Whipker  CC BY - 4.0

Dull green coloration of intermediate phosphorus deficiency.

Dull green coloration of intermediate phosphorus deficiency.

Brian E. Whipker  CC BY - 4.0

Red coloration of lower leaves due to phosphorus deficiency.

Red coloration of lower leaves due to phosphorus deficiency.

Brian E. Whipker  CC BY - 4.0

Leaf necrosis with advanced symptoms of phosphorus deficiency.

Leaf necrosis with advanced symptoms of phosphorus deficiency.

Brian E. Whipker  CC BY - 4.0

Stunted growth (right) due to phosphorus deficiency.

Stunted growth (right) due to phosphorus deficiency.

Brian E. Whipker  CC BY - 4.0

Similar Problems

Advanced symptoms of nitrogen deficiency can also result in lower leaf orange to reddish coloration.

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 phosphorus in strawberries is between 0.2 and 0.4%. Values lower than 0.19% can lead to deficient conditions. Levels above 0.4% 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.

Walmart Foundation logo

University of Arkansas logo

Author

Professor
Horticultural Science

Publication date: April 23, 2014

North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation.