How Has Recent Weather Affected Crops

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As we head into June, crops are in the field and growing new leaves as the days get hotter. Crops needed the recent rain as overall conditions were dry through the middle of May. With the recent rains, some nutrient issues may be seen in field crops as well as in home gardens. Nutrients have been taken deeper into the soil or away from the field as we have had multiple heavy rain events. You may notice a yellowing of leaves or other issues that arise due to a lack of nutrients. Now I know what some gardeners are thinking, “I followed the soil test results and applied the recommended fertilizer rates. How would I not have enough nutrients?”. Well, intense heavy rains that last only for a brief amount of time, runoff can become a major issue. If the fertilizer was not incorporated into the soil, it could be fertilizing your neighbor’s lawn as you read this article.

Another factor is the type of soil you have in your field or garden. Soils vary across the county and hold onto nutrients differently. Sandy soils are more well-drained than clay soils. So, sandy soils dry out faster and require fewer nutrients than clay soils. This does not necessarily mean sandy soils are easier to manage than clay soils when it comes to fertilizer, but rather it requires fertilizer to be applied more often due to the sand not holding onto nutrients as readily as clay soils. With these recent rains, nutrients have been lost and will not be available for your crops to utilize. It is possible to get a tissue sample submitted to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture (NCDA) if you believe this may be an issue. Taking a soil sample is also beneficial but it will not tell you how much nitrogen is in your soil and available for the plant. The best way to measure nitrogen is by taking a tissue sample.

With the recent weather, disease may be a cause for concern as well. If you believe a disease may be at fault, North Carolina State University operates a Plant Disease and Insect Clinic (PDIC). You can submit an image to them on their website. Before sending an image to the PDIC, reach out to Lee County Cooperative Extension at 919-775-5624. We can let you know what the best course of action is and help diagnose what problems you have in your field or garden.

Jared Butler is the Agriculture Agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.