[NAFEX] Re Jacquelyn's Orchard Question

Regina Kreger regina at kreger.net
Sun Oct 3 09:47:00 EDT 2004


Maryland no longer does soil tests -- the up side is that they are putting
out some good information on how to select a soil-testing lab, including a
comparative table of a number of East Coast labs, what they cost, what they
test for, etc.

http://www.hgic.umd.edu/pubs/online/hg110.pdf

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jim Fruth" <jfruth at uslink.net>
To: <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
Cc: <akkhwaja at aol.com>
Sent: Sunday, October 03, 2004 9:18 AM
Subject: [NAFEX] Re Jacquelyn's Orchard Question


>    Orchards, and gardens, fields, etc., need more than 10-10-10 to
maintain
> production.  A waning harvest over years sounds like either a boron
> deficiency (and/or some other micronutrient deficiency) or your pH has
been
> dropping and you need lime.
>    What you really need is a soil analysis!
>    I strongly recommend that you get your soil tested by a private
> laboratory instead of via an extension agency; here's why:  When I first
> started farming, I recognized a micronutrient deficiency in a field and
sent
> a soil sample to the county extension agency.  When my analysis came back,
I
> learned that all they tested was N, P, K, pH and Ca (calcium).  So I sent
in
> another sample specifically asking for a micronutrient analysis.
>    When the report came back, they had tested the micronutrient levels but
> gave no recommendations.  So I got on the phone, called the University and
> asked, "Why?"  The person who answered identified himself as a graduate
> student and said ".............they think the average person is too stupid
> to know anything about micro-nutrients."  I don't know how all university
> programs do it but I've had an identical set of problems in more than one
> state.
>    Back when I was a horticultural consultant to Kimberly-Clark
Corporation
> I hired a soils laboratory, K Ag Laboratory, Oshkosh, Wisconsin,
> akkhwaja at aol.com , to do my testing work.
>    Remember back when the only time we saw cranberry anything was sauce in
> cans and fresh at Thanksgiving time?  Well, K Ag was responsible for
> changing that - now we see cranberry juice, cranberry raisins, etc,. etc,
on
> grocer's shelves.  What the manager of K Ag and I learned is that some
> university soils testing programs receive a kick-back from lime companies
> when they recommend lime - if the soil needs calcium and the pH is right
(or
> even if it is already too high) they recommend lime (lime raises pH) where
> they should recommend gypsum.  Gypsum supplies calcium without raising pH.
> Gypsum is so seldom recommended that many fertilizer dealers don't have a
> supplier for it.
>    Anyway, 'in my book', K Ag is highly recommended.  I receive a complete
> analysis for only $15 more than my university testing program charges.
You
> may be fortunate to have a university testing program in your state or
> province that does a good/complete job or you may know of another private
> soils testing laboratory who would do you right.  Whoever you use,
> definitely get your soil tested!!!!
>    Just spreading 10-10-10 on your field or orchard may sound like a cheap
> fix but, all too often, it can be just so much money wasted.  When
speaking
> of fertilizer, we must consider the 'Law of Minimum"; or, in other words,
if
> a micronutrient is deficient in the soil, no amount of N,P,K can help soil
> fertility until the deficiency is solved.  I have my soils tested EVERY
year
> and get a bountiful crop EVERY year.  The crop I harvest more than pays
for
> the soil tests.
>    The same will work for you.
>
> Jim Fruth
> Pequot Lakes, MN
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