California farmers hoping to hit a home run this spring due to the long awaited rain will be facing three strikes against them when it comes to crop nutrition.
The first strike -- the excessive rainfall has moved mobile nutrients, such as nitrate-nitrogen, below the surface soil where they are not available to the roots of young annual crops or permanent crops breaking dormancy. Soil testing will help identify those fields that are likely to suffer from reduced availability of nitrogen and other nutrients and help predict how much fertilizer the crops will need.
The second strike -- microbial activity will be reduced in the cold, wet soils at planting or when perennial crops are breaking dormancy which will delay the conversion of ammonium-nitrogen to nitrate-nitrogen, the form of nitrogen preferred by most crops.
The third strike – release of nitrogen from soil organic matter will be slowed because of the cold, wet conditions at planting or when perennial crops are breaking dormancy.