Many fall-planted crops in the Upper Southeast have been set back from 3-6 weeks by late harvest of spring-planted crops, caused by excessive rainfall throughout much of the growing season.

As growers begin to finish up late harvest of soybeans, cotton and other crops, there is a need to plan for late-planted fall crops.

Soil testing will be more critical in many areas of the Southeast than in recent history, again due to the excessive rainfall, which in many cases depleted soils of many vital crop nutrients.

South Carolina Extension Agent Charles Davis says some good advice for growers in the Low Country of his state will be to soil test, soil test and soil test again. “We’ve never had rain at this level in my lifetime, so there will be many variable in terms of crop nutrients that we simply can’t predict without accurate soil testing,” he says

Fertilizers are significant variable costs in production and it pays to assess crop nutrients in fields. Soil testing is a relatively inexpensive but powerful management tool that determines nutrient levels in fields. With knowledge gained from soil tests, you can make more informed crop input decisions to minimize risk and maximize profitability.

DuPont Pioneer recently released a number of timely fall reminders for growers, including the need for soil testing. They say, “Sampling three to six months prior to the next crop allows enough time for any pH or nutrient adjustments. For many crops, the optimum time to take a soil sample is in late fall during post-harvest.”

Applying fall nitrogen for spring crops may not be the best option, especially for growers in the Southeast who persevered through one of the wettest growing seasons on record. Placing nitrogen closer to planting date may be a better option, but only after extensive soil sampling to determine the amount of nutrients left in the soil after the historic rains.