Tissue Analysis for Small Fruit and Grapes

Plant nutritional status is important for all phases of plant growth and has a direct effect on vigor, fruitfulness, cold hardiness, and other factors. Tissue analysis is the most reliable means of determining plant nutritional status. Combined with soil testing, tissue analysis can help pinpoint the source of problems and determine what measures may be needed to insure proper nutrition of the crop. Tissue analysis samples should be collected at the appropriate time to give the most meaningful results.

For strawberry, sample the first fully expanded leaves after renovation, usually in mid to late July. For brambles, sample leaves on non-fruiting canes (primocanes) between August 1 and 20. For blueberries sample leaves during the first week of harvest. For grapes, samples should be taken about 70 days after full bloom, usually early to mid August. Samples should be adequate in size. Collect 30-60 leaves for strawberries, brambles, and blueberries, and 100 leaf petioles for grapes (for grapes submit only the leaf petiole, or stem, for analysis, discard the leaf blade). Collect samples to represent the entire field, not just from a few plants. Sample different varieties separately. If specific problems exist, collect separate samples from both normal and problematic areas of the planting. After collection, leaves should be rinsed gently in tap water to remove any pesticide residues and dust that might affect analysis, laid out to dry for a couple of days, then bagged in paper bags for submission to the lab. Some labs offer tissue analysis sample kits.

There are several private companies and a few universities that provide tissue analysis. A list of certified soil and plant analysis testing labs serving Indiana growers is located at https://ag.purdue.edu/agry/extension/Pages/soil_testing.aspx

The Midwest Small Fruit Pest Management Handbook has a chapter on tissue analysis and fertilizer recommendations. https://ag.purdue.edu/hla/Hort/Documents/Midwest%20Sm%20Fruit%20861%201-24-11.pdf.  I suggest growers refer to that chapter when reviewing tissue analysis results and recommendations.

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