Specialty Crop

Are you testing at the right time?!
All crops are not created equal. Perennial crops, such as cranberries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, grapes, fruit trees, rhubarb and asparagus, can benefit from different sampling times than traditional annual crops, like corn or soybeans. Are you sampling at perennial growth stages listed below?

Timing
Type of Sample
Dormancy Spring
Soil
Vegetative Growth
Soil, Tissue & Water
Vegetative Growth
Soil, Tissue & Water
Pre-Bloom & Bloom
Soil, Tissue & Water
Fruit Set
Tissue & Water
Fruit Growth
Tissue & Water
Post Harvest
Soil
Dormancy Late Fall
Soil

Click on the left menu for more crop-specific sampling guides or reference our generic guides below:

  • Soil Sampling Guide (Link Currently Unavailable)
  • Fruit Crop – Tissue Sampling Chart (Link Currently Unavailable)
  • Water Sampling Guide 

Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and nursery crops (including floriculture).

Specialty Crops represent  a significant sector of American agriculture. Overall, specialty crops account for approximately fifty percent of domestic farmgate crop value.

USDA Secretary Mike Johanns, in comments at the Agricultural Forum in February (2006), said:

“The value of specialty crops is now equal to the value of program crops.  And they’ve continued to grow over the last couple of decades.”

Specialty crop producers are united like never before to advocate programs in a  variety of areas – such as research, conservation and marketing assistance – that can improve our competitiveness in a global  marketplace.

Specialty crops play an increasingly important role in the federal government’s  dietary guidelines for Americans – in the case of fruits and vegetables calling for a doubling of daily consumption.

For more information contact us.

Apple & Cherry

Soil Analysis Packages

Basic Soil Analysis

Primary purpose is to determine “Pre-Plant” fertility and pH in order to get necessary immobile nutrients incorporated prior to planting.

Includes pH, buffer pH, organic matter, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium

Soil Sampling Procedures
Soil Example Report
Soil Analysis Submittal Form

Complete Soil Analysis

Assessment tool for establishing baseline of the critical plant-available nutrients for fruit crops

Includes pH, buffer pH, organic matter, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, boron, zinc, manganese, copper, iron and cation exchange capacity (CEC)

pH

Monitors effects of lime or sulfur applications or long term nitrogen applications.

Nitrate

Plant-available form of nitrogen.

Electrical Conductivity

Measures the soluble salts content of the soil.

Heavy Metals

Call for details.

Plant Tissue Analysis

Tissue testing is the backbone of any nutrition management plan for vineyards, orchards and strawberry plantations. Routine tissue analysis detects low nutrient concentrations. Tissue testing predicts the fertilizer needs of your crop, diagnoses problems, and evaluates the effectiveness of your fertilizer program.

Includes total nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, sodium, aluminum and boron.

Foliar Tissue Sampling Procedures (Link Currently Unavailable)

Tissue Example Report

Plant Tissue Submittal Form 

Leaf Analysis (Link Currently Unavailable)

Leaf Analysis Interpretations

Orchard Nutrition Management (26 pages)

For more information contact us.

Blueberry

Managing the Nutrition of Highbush Blueberries 
Information Courtesy of Michigan State University Extension – Van Buren County Extension Bulletin E-2011, Major Revision, 1996

Eric Hanson and Jim Hancock Department of Horticulture

Blueberries evolved under acidic soil conditions where levels of many nutrients are naturally low. Generally, bushes require little and are sensitive to too much fertility. Because of these unusual nutrition requirements, many fertilization practices common to tree fruit production are not appropriate for blueberries. Proper management of nutrition is particularly important in blueberry culture because most blueberries in Michigan are grown on sandy soils that are prone to leaching. Sites usually have a water table within 3 feet of the soil surface, so nutrients can potentially move into drain water or groundwater. Efficient use of fertilizers will reduce production costs and minimize adverse effects on water quality.

Tissue Sampling Procedures (Link Currently Unavailable)Soil Sampling Procedures (Link Currently Unavailable)
Leaf Tissue Analysis (Link Currently Unavailable)Soil Example Report
Tissue Example ReportSoil Analysis Submittal Form
Plant Tissue Submittal Form

 

For more information contact us.

Cranberry

Are you sampling at perennial growth stages listed below?

 

Stage
Type of Sample
Dormancy Spring
Soil
Blossom Set
Soil, Tissue & Water
Mid-Bloom
Soil, Tissue & Water
Mid-Bloom
Soil, Tissue & Water
Fuit Set
Tissue & Water
Post Harvest
Soil
Dormancy Fall
Soil

Soil Testing
A routine soil test will report soil pH, percent organic matter, and will provide estimations of plant available phosphorous and potassium.  When a soil test accompanies a tissue test, it is another tool in the ongoing management of a fertility program. When samples are collected from each fertility management unit annually, trends can be followed over time and adjustments made as necessary.

Includes pH, buffer pH, organic matter, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, boron, zinc, manganese, copper, iron, soluble salts and cation exchange capacity (CEC)

Plant Testing
Tissue testing is the backbone of any nutrition management plan for cranberry marshes. Routine tissue analysis detects low nutrient concentrations before visible symptoms or yield reductions occur. Tissue testing predicts the fertilizer needs of your crop, diagnoses problems, and evaluates effectiveness of your fertilizer program.

Includes total nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, sodium, aluminum and boron.

Water Testing
Analyzing water samples can be useful for monitoring nutrient levels necessary to crop development. Testing is recommended annually, depending on grower standards.Package includes calcium, magnesium, iron, sodium, manganese, potassium, hardness, sulfates, chlorides, conductivity, pH, boron, orthophosphate, alkalinity, and nitrate.

For more information contact us.

Christmas Tree

Profitability Depends on Production Efficiency
Lost time and poor quality trees are unnecessary expenses in an increasingly competitive market. While no “Cookbook for Growing Christmas Trees” exists, the ultimate goal of soil and plant tissue analysis is to help you better understand the dynamics of tree nutrition in order to help you grow the best quality trees possible.

Soil Analysis Packages 

Basic Soil Analysis

Primary purpose is to determine “Pre-Plant” fertility and pH in order to get necessary immobile nutrients incorporated prior to planting.

Includes pH, buffer pH, organic matter, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium

Sampling Procedures (Link Currently Unavailable)
Analysis Packages (Link Currently Unavailable)
Soil Example Report
Soil Submittal Form 

Complete Soil Analysis

Assessment tool for establishing baseline of the critical plant-available nutrients for Christmas trees

Includes pH, buffer pH, organic matter, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, boron, zinc, manganese, an cation exchange capacity (CEC)

pH only

Monitors pH after lime or sulfur applications

Plant Tissue Analysis

  • Provides the status of nutrients inside the plant
  • Reflects what a plant is actually able to obtain from the soil, not just what is available (as in the soil analysis)
  • Necessary tool for evaluating and fine-tuning fertility management
  • Includes total nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, sodium, aluminum and boron.

Tissue Example Report
Plant Tissue Submittal Form

For more information contact us.

Ginseng

Soil nutrient management is essential to producing healthy, marketable ginseng roots. Soil analysis is a source of information to guide you to the proper use of fertilizers and other soil amendment practices. In addition, tissue analysis can detect a nutrient deficiency before symptoms appear in the plant. Many nutrient deficiencies are hard to recognize visually. Diagnosis of “hidden hunger” is often corrected by monitoring the tissue nutrient levels through foliar analysis. Once symptoms of nutrient deficiency appears, it is usually too late to avoid production loss.

Sampling Procedures
Tissue Analysis Submittal Form

OTHER RESOURCES:

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Potato

Maintaining nutrient levels to optimize growth is critical for sustaining plant health and tuber growth rates. Best nutrient management practices include the use of soil and tissue (petiole) analysis. Proper sample collection and selection of a testing laboratory which maintains high analytical standards increases the potential for obtaining reliable values for coordinating fertilizer management.

For more information contact us.

Strawberry

Plant tissue testing can determine if soil nutrients are being taken up in adequate amounts by the strawberry plant. Even when nutrients are in adequate supply, a plant’s ability to use available nutrients can be affected by several factors, including soil temperature, root development, drought, high temperatures, soil saturation with water, fertilizer application methods and timing.

Tissue testing results can help growers avoid long term nutrient problems. Occasionally, severe nutrient problems are encountered early in the growth of a crop. A tissue analysis may allow time for corrective measures to be taken in the same season, thereby reducing the potential loss.

Normal nutrient levels in strawberry tissue vary with plant growth stages such as flowering, fruiting and after fruiting. Tissue values may also be affected by time of sampling, the age of the leaves and the cultivars sampled. However, deficiency levels are reliable indicators that nutrients must be added.

Soil Sampling Procedures
Soil Example Report
Soil Analysis Submittal Form

Plant tissue analysis measures nutrient concentrations within growing plants.

Testing of strawberry leaves provides information on whether or not nutrients are sufficient for optimum crop development. Not only does it identify and verify observed nutrient deficiencies and/or toxicities, but it can also identify nutrient shortages before symptoms appear.

Tissue Sampling Procedures (Link Currently Unavailable)
Tissue Example Report
Tissue Analysis Submittal Form
Pictorial Sampling Guide

Plant tissue samples can be predictive or diagnostic.

Routine samples are predictive: that is, they identify nutrient levels within the crop and predict an appropriate approach to fertilization. Diagnostic samples are submitted to identify apparent nutrient problems.

Routine (predictive) analysis measures levels of nutrients present: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, manganese, copper, zinc, iron, boron and sodium. Results indicate whether plants are absorbing adequate amounts of the nutrients needed for optimum growth. Plant analysis reports give growers the information they need to evaluate the effectiveness of their current fertilization program.

Problem (diagnostic) analysis measures the same nutrients as routine analysis. However, the main goal of the analysis is to identify observed nutrient problems accurately. The best way to do this is to submit samples from “good” areas (normal looking plants) and from “bad” areas (discolored, stunted or misshapen plants) and compare the results. Matching soil samples from the two areas can also provide useful information.

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Vineyard

Fertilizer needs can be determined by 3 ways: observing visual symptoms, using soil tests, and using tissue (petiole) analysis. Because each method has advantages and limitations, all 3 should be checked on a regular basis. Petiole analysis is one of the best tools available to monitor the nutrient status of your grape varieties. Unfortunately, grape producers do not often use it. Tissue analysis serves two purposes: determine the nutrient status of the vine; and identify a suspected nutrient deficiency observed in the vineyard. By using tissue analysis, growers have a better handle on their fertilizer program and usually end up cutting costs since fertilizers are applied only as needed. Here are answers to commonly asked questions about petiole analysis:

Why petiole test if I did the soil test? 
Soil testing is important, before planting and for established vineyards, to determine soil pH and monitor the overall balance of major nutrients. However, there is a poor relationship between soil and plant nutrient levels. Simply put, a soil may be high on a nutrient, but the same nutrient is deficient in the vine; or the vine may show sufficient level of another nutrient while the soil test indicates a deficiency. For these reasons, petiole tests are generally more useful and more reliable for judging nutrient status of the plant than soil tests.

Soil Example ReportTissue Sampling Procedures (Link Currently Unavailable)
Soil Analysis Submittal FormTissue Example Report
Leaf Tissue Analysis (Link Currently Unavailable) Tissue Analysis Submittal Form

When should I do the test? 
“Trouble-shooting”: “If you observe leaf symptoms and suspect a nutrient deficiency, collect petiole samples from vines showing leaf symptoms and from vines without symptoms (healthy or normal). The two samples are sent and analyzed separately for comparison purposes. This will allow you to diagnose whether or not the problem is related to the nutrient status of the vine. In the case of trouble-shooting, samples are collected anytime leaf symptoms “show up” during the growing season.

“Routine assessment”: In the Midwest, mid-July through mid-August is the ideal time for petiole sampling for several reasons. Sampling during this time period gives a better measure of Potassium (K). Potassium levels are especially critical for wine grapes since they are correlated with wine quality (high fruit K leads to high pH and thus unstable wines); there is less vineyard activity (if there is such a thing!) during this time of year and more time for petiole sampling; and most importantly, the standard optimum level of each nutrient is based on research of nutrient levels at this time of year. It is recommended collecting petioles about 10 weeks after bloom but before harvest.

What are the most common nutrient deficiencies in vineyards?
During the past two years, potassium (K) and magnesium (Mg) are the most common nutrient deficiencies observed either visually or by petiole analysis. Other nutrient problems occur occasionally and include nitrogen (N), boron (B), zinc (Zn), and iron (Fe).

What can I expect from the lab? 
Petiole analysis is usually performed for nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium, manganese, iron, zinc, boron, and copper. Laboratory results will show that each nutrient is “adequate”, “deficient” or “excessive”.

Take Home Message 
Be proactive not reactive: Do not wait until you see visual symptoms to correct a nutritional problem. If you see it, the problem already exists and the damage has already been done on growth, yield, and fruit quality. The goal of fertilization is to prevent nutrient deficiencies from occurring in the first place.

Other Resources:
Here are the slides from the Wisconsin Grape Growers Association’s Spring Vineyard School, March 24, 2017, presentation titled “Vine Nutrition” – A major role in the life of your vineyard.

Balanced Soil Fertility Managment in Wine Grape Vineyards 

For more information contact us.