Nutrient Management for Commercial Fruit & Vegetable Crops in Minnesota
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There are 17 essential nutrients required for plant growth: carbon (C), hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), sulfur (S), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), boron (B), molybdenum (Mo), chlorine (Cl) and nickel (Ni). Of these 17, all except carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen are derived from the soil. When the soil cannot supply the level of nutrient required for adequate growth, supplemental fertilizer applications become necessary.
Recommendations for fertilizing fruit and vegetable crops in Minnesota are based in part on soil test results. Soil testing provides information on lime and fertilizer needs prior to planting and is particularly well calibrated for nutrients such as phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium, sulfur, zinc, and boron. Soil testing prior to planting takes the guesswork out of making fertilizer recommendations and leads to more efficient nutrient management. Fertilizer recommendations in this bulletin are intended for field-grown fruit and vegetable crops. For container-grown crops, such as transplants or vegetables grown in the greenhouse in pots, different soil tests should be used. Contact the University of Minnesota Soil Testing Laboratory (612-625-3101), for the appropriate form to fill out for container-grown crops or check the Soil Testing Laboratory.
For fertilizer requirements of established perennial crops and for fine-tuning fertilizer needs of annual crops, a combination of soil testing and tissue analysis should be used.