Rainfall in most of North Carolina has been at record high levels from early spring through summer, with some areas receiving more than 30 inches. As a result, turf in some areas has struggled due to poorly developed root systems.
Dr. David Hardy, chief of the Soil Testing Section with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services urges people be particularly vigilant about soil sampling this fall, especially on cool-season grasses which receive most of the fertilization during this time.
“Our sandy, light-colored soils have limited ability to hold nutrients to begin with,” Hardy said. “And some of our nutrients are what we call ‘mobile in soils,’ simply meaning they move with excessive water through the soil or ‘leach.’ “Potassium, nitrogen and sulfur are the most mobile nutrients,” Hardy said, “but even nutrients such as magnesium, which is held more tightly than potassium, can be depleted due to excessive rainfall.”
Another fertility issue to consider is soil acidity. In North Carolina, factors such as weather and the leaching of nutrients make soils naturally acidic. Soil pH and lime recommendations are two of the most important items of information provided on a soil-test report.
Beginning this fall, a peak-season fee of $4 per sample will be charged for all soil samples processed from Nov. 28 through March 31. From April until the Thanksgiving holidays, no fee will be imposed. The N.C. General Assembly approved the peak-season fee in its most recent appropriations bill.
For more information, visit www.ncagr.gov/agronomi
Dr. Charles H. Peacock
Professor and Extension Turfgrass Specialist