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  • Corey McCain

    October 2, 2021 at 3:44 am

    Today is October 2nd and I have been working to terminate my cover crop the last few weeks on half of my 5000 sqft plot. I only have one day a week to work on the property as my day job has been very busy. I attempted to plant various fall vegetable crops by direct sowing seeds in a small portion of the terminated area. This was going to be for home use but it appears the allelopathic properties of the sorghum Sudan grass, sunflower, and Sunn hemp have made this very difficult. Seeds did germinate but went nowhere and eventually died with the exception of some squash plants. I planted seed immediately after cutting crop down which was the method of termination. I’m now removing the plant residue and placing it in the foot paths instead of on the beds to see if this will help however now the sun is beating my soil badly as my work schedule isn’t allowing me to get much accomplished. I’m going to investigate some alternative cover crops for next summer as transitioning from it to fall crops seems to be problematic. I was aware of this possibility but now I have experienced it.

    Most of my plot will get a winter cover crop as I continue to experiment with amending the soil and develop it. I’m really not in a hurry to get to a cash crop. Figure I’d learn some things for awhile.

    I just got back some soil reports from Logan Labs as I wanted to see what were the results of all that amending I did in early summer. The rainy season is pretty much ending unless we get a hurricane. In my original post to start this journal I mentioned I had two different soils to test, a high pH area (above 7.5) and a low pH area (below 6.0). The original low pH test was accidentally tainted with some high pH soil that skewed the results some back then. It made the calcium number a bit to high and the pH 6.2 when in reality it was more like 5.6-5.8 at the time. If you’re curious about the original test you can scroll up to the original post. I amended this plot in 4 sections over a period of three weeks this summer. I have a soil test for each quarter section, two of them being a low pH sample and two of them being a high pH sample. Here are the results in parts per million:

    TEC: 7.09, 7.48, 9.0, 9.18

    pH: 6.1, 6.0 7.5, 7.6

    Organic matter %: 6.76, 7.4, 3.96, 4.0 ( the low pH sample in the original test was lower because of accidentally being tainted with some high pH soil)

    Sulphur: 15, 13, 53, 22

    Phos: 159.5, 173.5, 217, 202.5

    Cal: 950, 996.5, 1556, 1634.5

    Mag: 99, 90, 84, 64

    K: 53, 65.5, 24, 19

    Sodium:13, 12.5, 13.5, 17.5

    Boron: .58, .46, .62, .50

    Iron: 100, 104, 78, 72, (it seems these numbers went up because of high iron levels in the paramagnetic rock I added)

    Manganese: 74, 71, 65, 63

    Copper: 2.47, 4.24, 3.44, 3.45

    Zinc: 12.22, 15.52, 11.97, 9.48 (this came up more than I had planned)

    Cobalt: 1.384, 1.824, 1.087, 1.166

    Moly: .76, 1.4, .94, .74

    Selenium: .04, .25, .31, .30

    Silicon: 1.4, 1.1, 1.3, 1.3

    Overall I was pretty happy with the chemistry improvement from the original. I will likely address the calcium in the low pH soil some with some lime to bring the pH up a touch. I will continue to try and bring down the high pH soil with sulphur. I originally way over applied Potassium by accident at approximately (500lb per acre) but it seems to have mostly disappeared. I’m going to send in a Midwest labs total test to see if it’s still there perhaps or if it leached. I’m sure the cover crop also contained some K, which was still standing when I took my samples. I’ve been doing a lot of study on sandy soil and potassium and it’s seems to be a common problem. I thought the high organic matter would hold the K but from what I’m reading it doesn’t seem to hold K as well as I thought it would. I will add some more Boron and that’s about it. Calcium/pH adjustments, Potassium and Boron is about all I’m going to address at the moment, maybe some magnesium in the high pH soil but I don’t want to create further K deficiency. Open to suggestions.

    The cover crop did well and I saw mushrooms growing in areas of the garden as well as lots of worm castings. I have applied some Rejuvenate, spectrum, Sea Shield, as well as used biocoat Gold for seed inoculation. I really didn’t have time to do foliar spraying other than one small test. I have a fair amount of various AEA foliar products for future use. My biggest difficulty right now is time. I very optimistic going forward especially if work will slow down and I can get more time in the field. I have lots of fruit trees to take care of as well. I think that’s all I’ll add for this update.