Soils test results = wtf?

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GilaMinumBeer

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My hops are showing signs of Phosphate (P) and Potassium (K) deficiencies. I don't have photo's of the actual leaves but they have the same look as these;

http://www.freshops.com/nutrient.html#Nutrient

More specifically the Potassium (K) example.

On a whim, I picked up a soils test kit at the local Home and Garden. It's a Mosser Lee "Soil Master" test kit (RM# 31190) http://www.mosserlee.com/howto/soiltesting/index.html

Test result level equivalencies are given here;

http://www.mosserlee.com/howto/soiltesting/soilmaster/results.html

Per my test, using distilled water, I have resulted the following;

pH = 7.0, N = Low, P = Medium, K = High

WTF?

My plants show clear sign of K deficiencies but the test results determine I have the equivalent of 160lbs/Acre of K in my soil. Could this be a K poisoning effect?

I have read that the effects of too much macronutrient can mimic that of too little in horticulture. Is that happening here?

And what of the levels of the other macronutrients? Should I be adding a high nitrogen fertilizer at this point? A fertilizer blend of say 20-10-5, or something?

My garden is approx. 150ftsq or 162.6ftcu.

Someone please help me?
 

david_42

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I put more faith in test results. I would also run them on several soil samples. But if your results are consistent, a 20-10-0 would be the ticket.
 

CEMaine

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How accurate are these home titration kits?
Much less so than any lab will be.

I landscaped professionally for 15 years and I always struggled to understand soil test results. I think your on the right track with having too much.

Have you consulted with your local Co-Operative Extension Service or a good local nursery?
 

zoebisch01

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I agree with what has been said. I'll add though, did they test CEC? From your posts I know you add compost regularly, so I doubt that is the problem. There are also some other things I have read about that can limit nutrient uptake, but I am guessing this is possibly not the case. However, I will reaffirm what David mentioned because soil a few feet away can have a completely different makeup. Do you possibly have any type of salt toxicity in your soil? Salt toxicity looks a lot like K deficiency in the plant.
 
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GilaMinumBeer

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CEMaine:

I have consulted the county extension and I do plan to drop off the requisite sample for an actual lab analysis. Trouble is, it takes 2 weeks for them to return the results.

Zoebisch01:

CEC? I do not know what this is. And there is no "they" who tested. The testing was done via a Home Test kit. The kit utilizes tablets droped into prepared samples of water after having been mixed with the soil. I collected a tablespoon of soil from 13 different locations within the raised bed hop yard itself, mixed them together, and tested the mixture as a whole. If you recall from photos (maybe you have not seen them) my hop yard is in a raised bed construction with a 13 Inch depth. The soil in the raised bed was import soil. A commercially prepared "Rich Mix" consisting of equal parts composted manure, compost, loam, and sand.

I have yet to add any compost to the soil (but I do regularly build on my compost bin) and do not intend to use the compost I am building until next spring to give it ample time to develope. It's a large bin and the process is slow but hot. Slow becuase I regularly feed the bin with fresh material from the yard.

---------------

Well, to continue the attempt at troubleshooting I spoke with a few horticulturists that are familiar with hops and I am told that I have already done everything that they might suggest. Only, I was not able to show them any pictures. I have pictures now. Taken today at about 6:00PM. The soil at the time was measured for temp with a 3 Inch digital probe thermometer and the result was 78*F. Air temp was 84*F. The garden had been watered 2 hours prior to the temp measurement being taken.









continued.......
 
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GilaMinumBeer

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My apologies for some of the photos not being clear. It was windy today and I was using a macro lens. Thus, it was hard to keep a good focus on a non-stationary object.

I have very closely inspected each plant for insects. At most I had found a couple spiders of unknown species. I even used a mag glass and a jewelers lens to look for possible mites. I have yet to find any Aphids, Mites, Beetles, Grasshoppers, or any other insects eating at my plants. Although, there is some evidence of insect feeding, the majority of the damage to the leaves are from wind thrashing the lines about.

The images were taken from multiple plants. However, not all of the plants are showing these same symptoms. The most effected are in fact the most mature. However, 2 very puny plants are depicted as well. The rest appear to be healthy and vigorous as can be expected from 1st year plantings.

Whatd'ya think? Potassium problem or something else?
 

zoebisch01

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The only reason I suggest Salt toxicity (which is quite rare, but does happen by accident sometimes....salt runoff from a sidewalk, etc) is because unless you have way too much fertilizer, or a low CEC (then your soil cannot hold the nutrients nor exchange them with the plant, but as I mention as long as you incorporate organic matter this is rarely a problem) then you shouldn't be having that problem.

I am having a hard time from the photos seeing serious chlorosis as much as seeing margin burn.

Is the product you are using certified? Do they use Spent Mushroom Substrate? I am just throwing out suggestions. From the description of your procedure I am having a hard time thinking it is deficiency of any kind.
 

CEMaine

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CEMaine:

I have consulted the county extension and I do plan to drop off the requisite sample for an actual lab analysis. Trouble is, it takes 2 weeks for them to return the results.
That is okay. Patience is the guiding factor in the garden, at least for me.

It sure looks like a nutrient deficiency to me. If you have a good nursery around, take some of those leaves and drop by. Ask them what they think.

What was your pH? An acidic soil can reduce the availability of nutrients to the plants. Even when they are there in sufficient quantities. Occasionally, we will have to apply lime to 'Acid loving' plants like Rhoddies and Azaleas to make the nutrients more available to them. This without fail will lead to more and better blooms.
 
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Soil pH=7.

Only some of my plants are showing these effects. And some of the photo's are taken from the same plants. 5 out of 13 plants are having this effect and it is isolated to the older growth on each of them. All of the new growth looks pristine. All of the effected plants are also putting on sideshoots.

I tried a foliar feeding, just to try.

I am stumped on what to do from here, if anything. If the affected plants were all of European origin I might consider that it's a climate problem and the plants don't like the surroundings but, one is a Brewers Gold and another is a Nugget and another is CHinook........
 

pjj2ba

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One thing to keep in mind is that these older damaged leaves well never get "better". In fact, the main plant will probably declare them a lost cause and pull what nutrients out of them that it can (making it look even worse) before the leaf falls off.

With a fresh bed with fresh soil I would really be surprised if it were a deficiency symptom. The brown margins could be salt/fertilizer burn. Weather conditions, like hot and dry can make it worse - not because the plant is thirsty, but becuase if the air is very dry the plants will transpire like crazy and this can bring in too much minerals too fast. That very first photo looks a lot like spider mite damage, but you say you haven't seen any of the little critters. I'd also consider some disease problems.
 
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GilaMinumBeer

GilaMinumBeer

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Okay, so a master grower at the county extension also hypothesizes that I have a salinity issue causing the marginal burning effect.

So, how to correct this?

edit: I have read that the only way to correct (without replacing the soil completely) is to flood the area with water (over several days, allowing drainiage between) to leech the salts out of the soil.

So, after leeching. The soil would have to be re-aerated for certain but, is it possible to leech too much salt from the soil thus causing a similar issue?

I have checked with the county extension and they can/will test for this but, there is an additional fee and it still takes 2 weeks from sample submittal date. The MG also suggested I submit a leaf for pathology review. Again a fee and time span of 2 weeks for the results.

edit: I contacted my soil supplier and I am told that they do regularly have tests done on their soil batches. So, there is a good possibility that I may be able to get "some" useful information from that. For example, salinity.
 

zoebisch01

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Well, if you are buying that soil this could entitle you to see the test results. If it is indeed a salt issue, I am guessing something got fouled up in their process somehow. Could be where they are getting their raw materials. But that's just a guess. Spent Mushroom Substrate is known to be a likely candidate.
 

ChrisS68

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I'm finding that figuring out what deficiency or disease looks like what to be quite a guessing game, with so many overlapping symptoms. I've been doing a bit of reading, but I'm brand new to the whole gardening thing, so take whatever I offer for what it's worth.

My hallertauers have spots similar to what your first picture shows, though mine are larger and not as plentiful. With their irregular shape, I'm a little worried it could be a viral issue, but the plants seem to be thriving otherwise, so I dunno. I read somewhere that a nutrient deficiency could cause something like that, but I forget which one. Manganese perhaps?

Anyway, in your other pictures it looks like it could be a Potassium problem. Some information I found is that excessive amounts of Potassium can induce high-salts type damage to plants. However, one thing I don't think anybody has brought up is Magnesium. The symptoms of Magnesium deficiency can look quite similar to what you're dealing with.
Look here:
http://www.hbci.com/~wenonah/min-def/hops.htm
and here:
http://www.hbci.com/~wenonah/min-def/part4.htm


Also, looking at this page http://www.hbci.com/~wenonah/min-def/part2.htm (go about 2/3 of the way down), Magnesium can be locked out by an overabundance of potassium (which your test would seem to indicate). Of course, the information is rather old, but much of it is still viable and very well might apply in your case. I don't know what kinds of soil tests are available for Magnesium, but if you sent it to a lab, I imagine they'll check it out.

Don't hold me responsible if something goes wrong ;), but you might want to try giving the plants some foliar feedings with a mix of a half tablespoon of Epsom Salts in a gallon of water, and see how they respond. Most of what I've read says one whole tablespoon per gallon, but when testing with fertilizers, I figure cutting the concentrations in half to be a little safer. You can also water normally with it, but it probably won't be as quick or effective, and if it's getting locked out by the potassium, might not do much good at all. For a large-scale adjustment, you'd probably want to make some sort of amendment to the soil.

When I set up my hop beds I used 1/2 a bag of compost/manure per hill. It might be a great planting medium, but I'm not sure how great it is for nutrients. My hops were growing kinda slow and looked a little sickly compared to everything else in my yard. I did a soil test, and Nitrogen didn't even register, but that's kinda hard to believe. Maybe I scewed up the test somehow. Phosphorous was low-medium, and Potassium was inconclusive as the bottle never cleared, but I think there was some color in there. Going half by that and half by my gut, I mixed up a gallon of 1/2 strength Miracle Grow and watered my plants with it. I swear that, within a few hours, the plants looked more lively, and over the next couple of days they finally began to take off. Maybe it was just the good weather, but the fertilizer sure didn't hurt them. I think I'm going to give the plants another shot this weekend. If you think your plants could use some nitrogen, you could try some fish emulsion. It's something like 5-1-1 and is supposed to be a relatively safe way to give plants a nitrogen boost. I was originally going to use it rather than the Miracle Grow but, strangely, the store I went to didn't have any.
 

7Enigma

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Chris, magnesium deficiency is very VERY difficult to have. Most public/well water supplies have ample amounts, as do the surrounding soils in most areas. Both magnesium and calcium are probably the 2 most abundant minerals in the soil/water plants need. Rarely are they a problem in all but the craziest circumstances.

I vote for the over salination. It takes a TON of potassium to cause a toxicity issue.
 

ChrisS68

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Maybe you're right. At first I thought Magnesium because of spotting chlorosis and such on lower leaves but, at least in my my case, it might be due to a fungal issue with all the moisture we've had.

As far as tests go, I wonder if it's worth it to send some samples to a lab. I wanted to get a good home test that covered more than PH and NPK, but all I've been able to find locally are the same cheapie kits. I've done 3 seperate tests from various spots and they've all been somewhat inconclusive. I have a hard time making out the PH and K within the amount of time they say I should be able to as the tests remain really murky. Phosphorous, however, clears up pretty quickly and seems really high. I wonder if that's how the tips of some of my leaves turned black and shriveled up. I had planned on using fish emulsion, but the store didn't have any so I went with some Miracle Gro. I did a test before I fertilized and it said I had low to mid P so I figured I was safe. I don't know if letting them sit for too long skews the tests, but a day later the PH test is clear and looks like it's coming in at around 7.0. Potassium is still cloudy, but maybe it's normal-high? The strange thing is that, in all 3 tests, Nitrogen hasn't even shown up. That might account for the yellowing leaves, but it would be really odd because I have fertilized (see above about black leaf tips). I have to think the test should be registering at least some sort of Nitrogen.
 

7Enigma

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Maybe you're right. At first I thought Magnesium because of spotting chlorosis and such on lower leaves but, at least in my my case, it might be due to a fungal issue with all the moisture we've had.

As far as tests go, I wonder if it's worth it to send some samples to a lab. I wanted to get a good home test that covered more than PH and NPK, but all I've been able to find locally are the same cheapie kits. I've done 3 seperate tests from various spots and they've all been somewhat inconclusive. I have a hard time making out the PH and K within the amount of time they say I should be able to as the tests remain really murky. Phosphorous, however, clears up pretty quickly and seems really high. I wonder if that's how the tips of some of my leaves turned black and shriveled up. I had planned on using fish emulsion, but the store didn't have any so I went with some Miracle Gro. I did a test before I fertilized and it said I had low to mid P so I figured I was safe. I don't know if letting them sit for too long skews the tests, but a day later the PH test is clear and looks like it's coming in at around 7.0. Potassium is still cloudy, but maybe it's normal-high? The strange thing is that, in all 3 tests, Nitrogen hasn't even shown up. That might account for the yellowing leaves, but it would be really odd because I have fertilized (see above about black leaf tips). I have to think the test should be registering at least some sort of Nitrogen.
I do not think sending samples to the lab would be very beneficial. Most labs charge extra and piece-meal you to death if you want all the soil info. And as previously mentioned it's not necessarily that the soil doesn't have a particular nutrient, it's that the small root system doesn't have access to it. I would instead get the area soaked to help leech out any possible salt/over fertilization. Then see where you are at.

The one great thing about fast growing plants is they are indicator species of nutrient issues in the soil. Typically slower growers are MUCH more difficult to diagnose because it could have been something you did 2 weeks ago. With such a fast grower as hops, it's more likely what you did that morning or the night before.

From the aquarium trade I can tell you there is no reliable inexpensive measure for potassium. In the fish world, you just make sure you never get deficient, it's near impossible to have too much. pH is impossible to measure with soil samples using a colorametric kit because the soil itself turns the liquid a brown mess. You need a pH probe; I think they sell them in home and garden shops for under $30. Oh and you need to read the test at the specified time. After that time is over it is no longer accurate (next day you might as well guess at the pH).

For a first year plant you could do worse than a phosphate overdose. :) Phosphate is one of the primary drivers of root growth and so while you can have too much which causes small curled new leaves, and early maturation (could be why some people are already getting hop buds so quickly), it's probably not going to kill the plant. If anything, it's like steroids for your plant's roots.

I would hesitate to add any nitrogen source right now. Nitrogen is the #1 cause of people burning their lawns/plants/food crops. It's very potent in chemical form and you can definitely overdose easily compared to just about any other nutrient.

One thing I never thought to add (seems one of my hops out back has classic iron deficiency) is a very good iron suppliment for your lawn is sold as GreenSand. It's a form of iron that first needs to be broken down by microbes in the soil before being available to the plant so it's a nice slow release. It's also dirt cheap if you can find it (I think I got 40lbs for $3-5). I'll be applying it in the late fall (after harvest) and then early next year (say Feb) before the hops sprout to be sure there's ample amount in the ground. I have not, however, checked to see whether it's safe for food crops.

OK, that's it for now!

HTH
 

ChrisS68

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Thanks for all the info. I can't believe they would sell a soil test that could be so wrong, but I also can't believe that absolutely no Nitrogen is showing up. As far as leaching goes, I don't think I can water them any more than Mother Nature has already. They could really use a break! Actually, we've finally gotten a whole two days in a row without rain, though that's about to change - more rain is forecast for the next few days. Just to be sure, I looked again yesterday, and I still don't think I have an insect problem. I mean, I get the chewed up leaf here and there (more than I care for), but I've seen no evidence of aphids or mites, and aren't mites supposed to be more of a problem in dry climates?
Anyhoo, I'm going to try to find some sort of iron to feed the plants and see how they react, then I'll take it from there.
 

.code.decode.

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not trying to downplay your particular issue, it may require action, but whenever i come on here, it seems everyone is so overly concerned about every little insect or little spot they see on a plant.

if you're growing outside, in the wild, these things will happen. it's totally natural. healthy plants that are under attack are usually able to cope with the stress. if you start dittling with them, you're almost as likely to make things worse than better.

i have a 2nd year vine that "has" almost every single one of these phantom symptoms everyone keeps describing.... i just leave it along, the thing is healthy as can be. it produced about 1 oz. of cones in its first year, and is already producing cones now, and is probably 25+ feet tall (in PA). yeah, there is one bine (the first one that grew) that looks like The Cryptkeeper's face, i haven't cut it, or done anything, it's still growing, uglier than sin, but i'm fine with it.

i'm not trying to say stop worrying or having concern, i admit, i've only been gardening for 3-4 years or so, but maybe just leaving the poor plants alone instead of spraying them with soap and other chemicals might be a wiser choice. plus, plants in the wild or plants that are under attack, usually produce stronger qualities than their domesticated brethren (stimulating their immune systems) - which is why i think you always see the tip to trim the lower bines.

not saying i'm right, that's just what works for me.
 

7Enigma

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not trying to downplay your particular issue, it may require action, but whenever i come on here, it seems everyone is so overly concerned about every little insect or little spot they see on a plant.

if you're growing outside, in the wild, these things will happen. it's totally natural. healthy plants that are under attack are usually able to cope with the stress. if you start dittling with them, you're almost as likely to make things worse than better.

i have a 2nd year vine that "has" almost every single one of these phantom symptoms everyone keeps describing.... i just leave it along, the thing is healthy as can be. it produced about 1 oz. of cones in its first year, and is already producing cones now, and is probably 25+ feet tall (in PA). yeah, there is one bine (the first one that grew) that looks like The Cryptkeeper's face, i haven't cut it, or done anything, it's still growing, uglier than sin, but i'm fine with it.

i'm not trying to say stop worrying or having concern, i admit, i've only been gardening for 3-4 years or so, but maybe just leaving the poor plants alone instead of spraying them with soap and other chemicals might be a wiser choice. plus, plants in the wild or plants that are under attack, usually produce stronger qualities than their domesticated brethren (stimulating their immune systems) - which is why i think you always see the tip to trim the lower bines.

not saying i'm right, that's just what works for me.
I think the 80/20 rule definitely works with gardening. That would be 20% the effort for 80% the yield. You can get better health/growth/yield, but you will have to put out a lot more effort, and could end up making something worse.

I think most of these posters (myself included) are concerned because the majority of us are FIRST year growers. We realize the rhizome was put under a tremendous amount of stress and possibly not the best watering/fertilizing conditions and so we are trying to do the best we can this first year to be certain a healthy root system is established. After the first year I think most hop growers take the beer brewing mantra to heart, it's just this first year that you can have a dead stick or a healthy hop yield.

:tank:
 

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