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Arnall Says It's Not Too Early to Think Soil Fertility in Areas Hit By Harsh Winter Weather

Mon, 28 Apr 2014 16:56:52 CDT

Arnall Says Itís Not Too Early to Think Soil Fertility in Areas Hit By Harsh Winter Weather
Oklahoma State University's annual crop tour is underway and attendees looked at wheat and canola crops last week near Chickasha. Brian Arnall, assistant professor of nutrient management, told Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays it's obviously been a tough year for wheat and canola growers in that area. He said it is hard to generalize, but areas of wheat that were well fertilized have fared better than those that were underfertilized. The differences were not so stark when it came to canola.


"For the most part, canola just got hit hard," he said. It didn't seem like overall soil fertility had much impact whether the crop had to weather drought, freezing temperatures or both. But, other variables in soil nutrient profiles did show differences.


"If we look at soil conditions-low phosphorous, low soil-test pH-those levels did get harder hit on winter kill, harder hit on the drought. Effectively, when you have low nutrient availability in phosphorous or even K, low pH, that crop is not able to put out a root system. It is not able to put up the plant it needs to take a winter like we've had."


What that shows him, Arnall said, is that it is extremely important to establish the optimal nutrient profile and maintain it throughout the growth cycle for canola to give it the best chance of withstanding tough weather conditions. At a site near Fairview, Arnall said they were recently able to confirm that properly-fertilized two-foot-tall canola plants had sent roots down four to six feet through limiting layers of clay. That gives those plants the ability to survive drought conditions which would otherwise damage a wheat crop.


Unfortunately, Arnall said, there is nothing that can be done to resurrect this year's crop after the drought and freeze damage has been done.


"What we've got is what we've got. There's nothing we can really do at this point to improve anything. Going on, this is the message I've given about every year: For next year, if you're going into canola, have at least a composite soil sample. Make sure you are at least at or above sufficiency levels. If you're marginal in P or K, or even marginal to good, think about putting some down. If you're low, without a doubt get some fertility down, get it in place."


He said that for those producers who have already lost this year's crop, it is not too early to put lime down and let it react in disperse throughout the soil in preparation for next year.


   

      

Soil fertility can make some difference in winter, drought survivability, Brian Arnall says.
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