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Agricultural Review


Prepare for a fall vegetable garden by soil testing.

If you are thinking about planting a fall vegetable garden in July or August, then you need to take the first step in June. Soil test! The test is free at this time of year, and sampling instructions are available at Sample boxes can be picked up at all county Cooperative Extension offices. The Agronomic Division prefers that you visit the PALS website to fill out your sample information form and submit it electronically. You will still need to print a copy of the form and send it in with your samples. Within two weeks, your report will be posted online with lime and fertilizer recommendations for a productive garden.

Test source water for irrigation systems.

Before you turn on that drip or overhead irrigation system, it is a good idea to collect samples of your source water and have it tested by the NCDA&CS Agronomic Division. Chemical problems with source water can affect plant growth and quality. By testing water now, you can correct any problems before you start irrigating your crops.

Solution analysis is a service that measures the chemical properties of water that affect plants. In eastern North Carolina, high alkalinity is a potential water problem. Irrigating with highly alkaline water can lead to an increase in soil pH that can limit availability of some essential plant nutrients, especially micronutrients.

The solution report indicates whether alkalinity is a potential problem and, if so, provides helpful advice to correct it. Some other potential source water problems include high soluble salts, iron, boron, sodium or chloride. Once identified, these problems can either be corrected or effectively managed to prevent plant growth problems.

If crop plants are stunted and/or discolored, check for nematodes.

The best way to find out if nematodes are responsible for an area of poor crop growth is to collect and submit two sets of soil samples: one for nematode assay and one for fertility analysis. An accurate diagnosis of nematode populations during the growing season provides a sound basis for effective management in the future. Knowing the species and numbers present facilitates informed selection of resistant varieties and crop rotation strategies.

Fertilize centipedegrass lawns in June.

The nitrogen fertilization rate and schedule for centipedegrass are different from those of other warm-season grasses. Centipede requires only 0.5 pound of nitrogen per 1000 square feet per year, and all of this amount should be applied in June. The majority of centipede growth problems that are fertility related result from applying too much lime and phosphorus or inadequately maintaining soil potassium levels. These problems can be prevented by soil sampling and following recommendations. If you have not taken a soil sample in the last two or three years, you may want to do so to find out your lawn's fertility needs. When filling out the Soil Sample Information form, use the crop code (022) specifically assigned to centipedegrass.

Important Reminder: Do not fertilize cool-season lawn grasses—fescue, ryegrass and bluegrass—during the summer. Wait until September.

Summer is a good time to submit soil samples from lawns & gardens.

Summer is when the NCDA&CS soil testing lab can process samples most quickly —usually ten days or less. Homeowners and landscapers are urged to submit samples at this time and avoid the peak-season fee (late November through March). Farmers who are maintaining cool-season pastures can also submit soil samples now so they will be ready to apply phosphorus and potassium in late summer or fall.



NCDA&CS Public Affairs Division, Andrea Ashby, Director
Mailing Address:1001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1001
Physical Address: 2 West Edenton Street, Raleigh NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3001; FAX: (919) 733-5047

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