Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Use of Plant Analysis for Evaluating the Nutrient Status of Perennial Fruit Crops (Part 2)

Submitting Plant Samples for Analysis

Do not include plants affected by insects, disease or pesticide damage. Where a deficiency is suspected, take samples from normal plants in an adjacent area as well as from the affected area. It is important to take a soil sample from each area. Comparing soil and plant analysis results can greatly assist in the interpretations. Collected plant tissue is very perishable and requires special handling to avoid decomposition. Therefore, fresh plant tissue should be placed in clean paper bags left open; partially air dried if possible or kept in a cool environment during shipment to the laboratory. Wash dusty plants before air-drying. Fresh plant samples should not be placed in closed plastic bags unless the tissue is either air-dried or bag and contents are kept cool. Air-drying of fresh plant tissue can be done by placing the plant tissue in an open, dry environment for 12 to 24 hours. Air dried samples can be placed in a clean brown bag or envelope and mailed to the lab. Request a complete analysis of each plant sample including nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), copper, iron, zinc, manganese and boron. The University of Missouri soil and plant testing lab offers this service for $25 per sample. Information on submitting samples to the lab and sample information forms can be obtained from the lab’s website

How and When to Sample Perennial Fruit Crops?
Crop - Stage of Growth - Plant Part/Location on Plant - Number of Samples or Plant Part

Apples - July 15 – Aug. 20 - Fully-expanded leaf from middle of current terminal shoot – 40 leaves detach petioles

Brambles – Aug 1 – Aug 21 – Select the most recent fully expanded leaf of blade of each primocane – 40 leaves, detach petioles

Fruit Trees (peach, nectarine, plums, ets.) - July 15- Sept 1 - Select shots at eye level from around the outside of the tree. Select shoots that make a vertical angle of 45-60 degrees to the ground. Remove 1 or 2 leaves from the mid portion of current season’s growth. - 30 leaves and petioles

Grapes - At full bloom - Petiole from leaf opposite to basal fruit cluster - 40 petioles

Raspberries - First week in Aug - Leaf 18 inches from tip - 30 leaves

Strawberries - Mid Aug - Mature leaves from new growth at flowering - 20 leaves

(by Manjula Nathan, MU  Extension Associate Professor)

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