Getting Ready for Next Year: Crop Soil and Tissue Analysis

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It’s hard to believe, but another season is wrapping up here at Parlee Farms. 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 season! 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!

• Soil samples 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.

• It is best to take soil samples at the same time of year for the most consistent and reliable results.

• Soil should be tested for organic matter content every two or three years.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• Cover crops planted in the fall are an excellent way to capture and store nutrients for crops in the following spring.

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! Thank you for your support this season and we hope to see you back on the farm next year!

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This post was written by Parlee Farms