Andrew Koeser, International Society of Arboriculture, Bugwood.org
Regular liming is critical to good crop production in our soils. However, of all of the soil test results, pH is the only one that is consistently below optimum in our annual soil test summaries for PA. We need to give our liming programs the same priority as our fertilization and pesticide programs. A common question is when is the best time to lime? The bottom line is that anytime the soil conditions are appropriate for the spreading equipment and the crop does not limit spreading, is ok. However, there are some helpful considerations for when to apply limestone.
Just like fertilizer and pesticides, limestone must be spread evenly to be effective. This can be a problem for field dumped limestone that might be spread by farmers. First, manure spreaders generally are not very good at uniformly spreading limestone. Also, if these piles freeze, the limestone can be very lumpy resulting in non-uniform application and uneven pH across the field. The bottom line is that liming must be a priority in crop management, and anytime is a good time to lime, including winter, as long as you pay attention to a few important details.