If crops look stunted or discolored, collect soil and tissue samples for nutrient problem diagnosis.
Soil samples are normally collected before a crop is planted to assess the lime and fertilizer needs for the upcoming season. However, soil samples and matching plant tissue samples collected during the cropping season are excellent for diagnosing a wide range of nutrient problems. The best approach is to collect both soil and tissues samples from “bad” areas, and then to collect both types of samples from “good” areas. Label the samples so you know which are the “good” ones and which are the “bad” ones. Do not collect tissue samples from dead plants.
Summer is a good time to submit soil samples from lawns and gardens.
Summer is the off-season for the NCDA&CS soil testing lab, and samples can be processed quickly-usually in about ten days or less. Homeowners and landscapers are urged to submit samples at this time, but some farmers can take advantage of the off-season as well. Farmers who are maintaining cool-season pastures can submit soil samples to be ready for late summer or fall, which is an excellent time to apply phosphorus and potassium to get pasture grasses ready for winter.