Plant Nutrition

Over Fertilization

A common problem often diagnosed this time of year with spring crops is excess soluble salts. Generally, this is a result of too much fertilizer in relation to the plants needs. Inadequate watering or leaching, or poor drainage can also result in high soluble salts.

Checking Your Fertilizer Injector

An injector setting of 1:100 means that 1 gallon of fertilizer concentrate makes 100 gallons of final solution. It does not mean that the injector is delivering 100 parts per million (ppm) nitrogen. Many injectors have a dual settings, in percent and ratio. A 1 percent setting is the same as a 1:100 ratio, a 2 percent setting is the same as a 1:50 ratio and a 0.5 percent setting is the same as a 1:200 ratio.

Wilting Mums

Fall mums will exhibit signs of wilting during extended periods of 90 plus degree temperatures. The solution may not be as easy as turning on the irrigation.
Fall mums wilt when the soil is dry, but wilting will also occur in hot weather which may cause plants to be stressed, or if the roots are damage from a root disease such as Pythium, even if the soil is saturated with water. When the roots stop functioning normally the plants will show signs of stress by wilting.

Checking Your Fertilizer Injector

An injector setting of 1:100 means that 1 gallon of fertilizer concentrate makes 100 gallons of final solution and does not mean that the injector is delivering 100 parts per million (ppm) nitrogen. Many injectors have a dual settings, in percent and ratio. A 1 percent setting is the same as a 1:100 ratio, a 2 percent setting is the same as a 1:50 ratio and a 0.5 percent setting is the same as a 1:200 ratio. To make the appropriate concentrate for a specific injector setting, determine the amount of fertilizer to dissolve per gallon of water.

pH, Iron/Manganese Toxicity Spring Crops

Check the pH of growing media to adjust pH if necessary. Zonal geranium, American marigold, and all types of impatiens are susceptible to iron/manganese toxicity, a nutritional disorder associated with low growing medium pH. Symptoms show as speckling (numerous very small brown spots) on the leaves of geraniums and marigolds, usually beginning on the edges. Maintain the pH within the range of 6.0-6.6 to prevent toxicity.

Wilting Mums

Fall mums will exhibit signs of wilting during extended periods of 90 plus degree temperatures. The solution may not be as easy as turning on the irrigation.
Fall mums wilt when the soil is dry, but wilting will also occur in hot weather which may cause plants to be stressed, or if the roots are damage from a root disease such as Pythium, even if the soil is saturated with water. When the roots stop functioning normally the plants will show signs of stress by wilting.

Soil Testing and Plant Diagnostic Laboratories

Diagnosis is the first step in implementing effective and economic management practices. Identification of insects, diseases and nutritional problems saves money by reducing crop losses, improves the quality and marketability of your crops and prevents unnecessary and incorrect pesticide or fertilizer applications.

Here is an up-to-date listing of the laboratories in Massachusetts andConnecticut and guidelines for taking samples to send to a diagnostic lab.

Soil Testing

Crown buds on Chrysanthemums

Premature flower or crown buds often result in short plants. Chrysanthemum flower buds initiate easily and develop rapidly, especially if plants are stressed in any way. Lack of adequate water and fertilizer are two common causes for premature budding. Also, when grown outdoors, we are relying on the natural daylength and temperature to control the timing of the crop. Chrysanthemums are short-day plants. Both flower initiation and development of the flower buds occur more rapidly under short days than in long days.

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