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Taking Leaf and Soil Samples

Why should you take leaf and soil samples each year? To make sure that your trees have the proper nutrients to produce a healthy crop of nuts. Over fertilizing can cause just as many problems as under fertilizing. Ideally, your samples should be taken at the same time each year.

Leaf sampling procedures:

  • Between July 7th and August 7th, collect 50 to 100 leaves from different trees throughout your orchard. The sample of the leaves should be the middle leaflets on the newest growth from the tree, typically found on the outside of the tree.
  • Abnormal trees or trees not representative of the area should be sampled separately.
  • Upon collection, immediately wipe leaves with a damp sponge to remove dust and spray residue. Lay them our on a table top until they are dry to the touch.
  • Document location of each leaf sample.

Soil sampling procedures:

  • Take your soil sample at the same time as the leaf samples are pulled.
  • Use a spade to make a thin vertical slice of soil to a depth of 8-12 inches.
  • Take at least 12 to 15 thin slice cores for each block of trees to be sampled. Keep a record of where soil samples are taken.
  • Cores should be pulled within the drip line, not between rows.

Once you have your leaf and soil samples, contact either your extension agent or a reputable plant analysis lab for shipping instructions. Your results will be returned with an analysis recommending which minerals are deficient and the quantity needed for optimum production.