Due to the extremely high fertilizer prices, none of his Sacramento Valley growers fed their almond and walnut trees last fall, reports Thad Stephen, PCA with AgriSource, a division of the Lyman Group. Based in Maxwell, Calif., he works with farmers in Butte, Colusa, Glenn and Sutter counties.

Normally, his growers would have put down dry forms of nitrogen, phosphate, potash and sulfur in October or November. However, with the decline in fertilizer prices over the winter to levels similar to fall of 2007, many of them with sprinklers began applying their normal fall rates of dry phosphate, potash and zinc and sulfur early in February this year. Rains during the last two weeks of the month pushed the fertilizers into the soil profile, he notes.

Growers don’t like to disk at this time year. So, those with flood irrigation opted not to fertilize in February because of these rains. Flood irrigation then would have added too much water, running the risk of Phytophthora or other diseases, Stephen explains.

“We’ll be sampling soil and leaves throughout the season to determine nutrient removal levels and apply foliar sprays as needed to maintain adequate nutrition the rest of the season,” he says. “Hopefully, we’ll be back to fertilizing as normal this coming fall.”