Fertility – Five Keys to Proper Fertility
- Have a soil sample tested to determine nutrient and lime needs. Use dolomitic lime, if needed, to adjust pH and supply magnesium as well as calcium. Do not overlime!
- Use a base nitrogen rate of 50 to 80 pounds per acre. Your portion of the rate range will depend on topsoil depth and texture, previous crop grown, and personal experience.
- Apply 20 to 30 pounds of sulfur per acre on deep, sandy soils. Sulfur application recommendations are now provided in soil test reports. Read the label to be sure that the complete (N-P-K) fertilizer contains sulfur. If the complete fertilizer does not provide this nutrient, then apply a sidedresser containing sulfur.
- Determine and make leaching adjustments for nitrogen losses with caution only after leaching occurs. Do not assume that leaching will occur and apply extra nitrogen up-front in the growing season.
- Use a method of fertilizer application that maximizes nutrient uptake efficiency but minimizes fertilizer salts injury and early-season leaching losses, such as the bands at transplanting or bands within 10 days after transplanting methods. The latter method is more risky than the first on poorly drained soils because frequent rains after transplanting could delay fertilizer application for more than 10 days.
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