“This was one of the wettest growing seasons I can remember. Growers whose crops drowned or rotted may want to forget this past season, but they need to let it remind them that soil testing in the coming months is not optional,” he says.

The prolonged wet weather and cool temperatures combined to create big production problems on most crops staple to the Southeast. The unusual weather also took a toll on the soil, both directly and indirectly.

Thousands of acres of cropland were abandoned this spring and summer and the high cost of replacing nutrients depleted by excessive rainfall wasn’t offset by the necessities of adding nutrients for crops, because in many cases, no crop was left in the field.

Wheat is in short supply globally and in big demand in the Southeast for livestock feed. The latter demand doesn’t come with the same high prices as does wheat for human consumptions.

The result may be a reduction of input costs by growers, which could equate to a reduction in much needed soil nutrients.

Crozier says growers planning to plant small grains this fall are especially urged to sample ahead of that crop. The sooner samples are submitted, the sooner recommendations can be implemented to get the crop started off with the best fertility possible.

In North Carolina, for samples received until mid-November, soil test results are free and the turnaround time is generally two weeks.

Micronutrient losses in crops have been especially widespread across the Southeast this year — yet another potential risk to growers and possibly to humans.

Zinc deficiencies in particular have cropped up in places where they don’t typically occur — in most cases where record rainfall has occurred.

Zinc deficiency is well documented in crops, but little is known about the correlation between low zinc levels in crops and low zinc levels in humans.