Getting Ready for Next Year: Crop Soil and Tissue Analysis

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It’s hard to believe, but the 2023 season is just about done and we will finish by the end of October. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we aren’t busy.

In fact, we’ve already started planning for next year’s pick your own fruit and flower season! One thing that we do is a crop soil and tissue analysis. Here’s more information about what we do to get things ready for next year:

About Crop Soil and Tissue Analysis

In early fall, we do crop soil and tissue analysis for all of our crops to ensure that they’ll be in the best possible shape for the upcoming season. We test for organic matter, nutrients, and pH and receive our test reports from the UMass Extension Center for Agriculture.

Here are a few notes from their website about crop soil testing that you might find interesting, especially if you have a garden at home!

Fall is Best for Soil Samples

These can be taken at any time, but fall is ideal because it allows time to apply any needed lime to adjust pH, plant a cover crop to recover any leftover nutrients, make a nutrient management plan, and order materials well in advance of spring planting.

When to Take Soil Samples

It is best to take soil samples at the same time of year for the most consistent and reliable results. Also, soil should be tested for the content of its organic matter every two or three years.

Choose the Best Type of Soil Test

There are different types of soil tests and the right test depends on your goals. Crop soil tests include a standard test, soil nitrate test, manure or compost analysis, soilless greenhouse media, soil texture, and plant tissue analysis.

Be Sure to Test Soil Acidity

Most New England soils are naturally acidic (4.5-5.5) and need to be limed periodically to keep the pH in the range of 6.0-7.0 desired by most vegetable crops and beneficial microbes.

Fortify the Soil With Organic Matter

  • Compost is often applied as a method for increasing soil organic matter.
  • Manure is an excellent source of nutrients, however as it ages and decays considerable nutrient loss occurs. In most cases, manure should be applied in the fall or to a non-food rotation crop. In order to make accurate nutrient applications to best fit your crop needs, a manure analysis should be conducted.

Plant Cover Crops

Cover crops planted in the fall are an excellent way to capture and store nutrients for crops in the following spring. These types of crops usually include hardy grains that survive the England Winters, such as rye, oats, and spelt. Rye is the hardiest of these. However, the plants we choose will depend on the soil conditions.

We’ve already submitted soil for analysis for all of our crops, including soil from land we plan on planting new apple trees on in the spring.

With careful preparation, we will be ready to go for next year’s growing season. We’ll see you soon!

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This post was written by Parlee Farms