Lime application in a cover crop (photo credit: Justin Brackenrich)
This fall it appears that rain is a constant in the forecast. Trying to juggle crop harvest between wet fields has been a challenge for everyone across the state. As we get later in the season, time left for field activities besides finishing harvest, seems to be dwindling. However, there is still a chance to manage your field pH and be prepared for the 2019 growing season.
Limestone can be applied on a frozen soil. With the amount of rain the past few months, do not be afraid to wait until freezing to apply lime and avoid soil compaction. Late fall, after a heavy frost can be beneficial to your soils, through avoiding soil compaction as well as ensuring that there is time for incorporation prior to planting in the spring of 2019. If the limestone stays where it is, there is no concern with applying limestone on frozen soil. The key takeaway is that, as long as the field is not prone to erosion, the limestone should stay in place and will not be directly washed off the field by late season rains or mid-winter snow melts. Sloping fields, or fields with little or no cover should be avoided to ensure the lime application is actually going onto the intended field.
With a late-fall application on frozen or dry soil, there will be some shallow incorporation due to freeze/thaw cycles throughout the winter. For example, if limestone is applied in early December, it is likely that there will be days above freezing, thus allowing the limestone to slowly incorporate into the soil. In no-till fields or fields with perennial crops, this can be beneficial as it allows for incorporation where there will be no tillage prior to spring planting to mix the limestone with the soil.
Though the amount of activities left to finish during this harvest season can seem daunting, there is still an adequate amount of time to apply limestone and ensure you have an adequate pH for planting in 2019.