Another Update From Meteorologist, Dr. Jay Schlegel & Article About El Nino in N&O (Sat., Aug. 29, 2015)

— Written By Barclay Poling and last updated by
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Dear Strawberry Growers – I received this weather update yesterday by Dr. Jay Schlegel   for growers in Mid-Atlantic region. In addition, Dr. Ryan Boyles, NC State Climate Office, was interviewed this week by News and Observer reporter, Richard Stradling, about the meaning of a strong El Nino this winter on North Carolina:

1. Weather forecast through September – Mid-Atlantic area

A warming trend will begin over the weekend and it should last through about the middle of September. Cooler weather should return after the middle of September and last though the remainder of the month. All in all, the effect of these temperature swings should cause September to average 1-2 degrees above normal.

A tropical storm or hurricane (Erika) may make landfall along the southeast coast on Labor Day weekend. If the storm does so and then the remnants drift northward,
it could cause some locally heavy rains in the east Coast states. Growers should monitor the storm’s movement and intensity.

Absent any rain from Erika, rainfall through September should be lower than normal, in the range of 75-90 percent of the long term averages.

Dr. Schlegel

2. What a Strong El Nino could mean in NC?

Please be sure to go to this article and read what Professor Boyles has to say about implications of strong El Nino on our weather systems in the piedmont and coastal areas this winter:

I am trying to think of special steps growers in these areas may wish to take this winter, and I think it will be VIP that they do an excellent job this fall in making sure that all of their strawberry fields have good water drainage! This could be especially important from  a disease management perspective. Please review these comments of Dr. Frank Louws and Garrett Ridge in their publication on Leather Rot <>

Site Selection and Preparation:

Select a planting site that is well drained with good sun exposure. To further reduce excess moisture, use raised beds and proper row orientation to facilitate drainage. Do not allow soil to compact or develop ruts as this will encourage water puddling. Practice proper plant spacing and weed control to promote airflow for quick drying of plant surfaces. These tactics help to reduce disease pressure by making conditions unfavorable for oospore germination and zoospore motility. The disease is most likely to occur in low lying areas where free water persists.”


Another issue with higher rainfall amounts this winter could relate to fertilizer leaching? I suspect it will be very helpful to do some early season plant tissue sampling next year to check on plant nutrient content. At Clayton Central Crops, we had a practice of trying to pull our first tissue sample around the 1st of March.

I would NOT suggest trying to load up on pre-plant fertilizer (anticipating more rainfall this winter). One thing you risk with loading up on N fertilizer is excessive growth in the late fall, and that can lead to higher risk of winter cold damage!

It is best to stick with NCSU recommendations on pre-plant fertilizer amounts:

FYI – The NC Strawberry Association has a new production guide with a completely re-written fertility section. You may inquire about this publication with Kristy Phillips

Kristy Phillips
Executive Secretary
North Carolina Strawberry Association (NCSA)
PO Box 543 (NEW Address)
Siler City, NC 27344
Phone: 919-537-2287
Fax:  919-742-5259

Wishing you a great weekend!

Barclay Poling

Dr. E. Barclay Poling
Professor Emeritus (Strawberry Plasticulture Researcher)
Department of Horticultural Science
Campus Box 7609, 162A Kilgore Hall
NC State University
Raleigh, NC 27695-7609
“An idealist believes the short run does not count. A cynic believes the long run does not matter. A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short run determines the long run.”

Sidney J. Harris, In: Reclaiming a Lost Heritage – Land-Grant & Other Higher Education Initiatives for the Twenty-first Century

Updated on May 20, 2021
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