Soil pH and planting?

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HanksHill

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Hi all -

Establishing a new home vineyard in Maryland and have some planting questions. We have been testing our soil this the fall as we have acidic soil (started at 4.2) and adding lime to the point where we've gotten it to 4.7 taken about 12-14" below the surface. The nursery we're working with seems to think we might be OK provided we apply again before planting and work in in some to the soil, but it's an awfully large investment to go with "probably". Does anyone have any experience planting in this sort of soil pH?
 

dwhill40

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Read up on Gypsum. Most people have misconceptions about it. Gypsum will migrate in the soil 1000 times more than lime and will bind with the aluminum and other toxic minerals in the soil allowing the roots to access the subsoil which the lime can't reach. Lime will basically sit where you put it. Yes, the issue with acid soil is the availability of toxic minerals to the roots. I grow vinifera in 4.9ph subsoil without issue. I haven't seen much ph change with gypsum.

110R root stock is also another trick. 110R can be overly aggressive but tolerates acidic soil well. I have many combinations of root stocks and scions and they all thrive in old sandy cow pasture with the natural ph of my topsoil being 5.1 and subsoil being 4.9.

Also, commercial fertilizer is not the best solution for making healthy dirt. I use composted cow manure for nitrogen and not much of that, soft rock phosphate for slow release phosphorous, and granite dust for potassium and trace minerals. I broadcast a small amount of organic fertilizer in row middles once or twice a year. Super phosphates down regulate the gene in vines that allow the mycorrhorizae to connect and feed the vines and nitrates invite a host of evils. Healthy dirt makes healthy vines. I'm on year eight now growing around fifteen varieties of vinifera and making killer wine in the deep south. Good luck!
 

HanksHill

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Read up on Gypsum. Most people have misconceptions about it. Gypsum will migrate in the soil 1000 times more than lime and will bind with the aluminum and other toxic minerals in the soil allowing the roots to access the subsoil which the lime can't reach. Lime will basically sit where you put it. Yes, the issue with acid soil is the availability of toxic minerals to the roots. I grow vinifera in 4.9ph subsoil without issue. I haven't seen much ph change with gypsum.

110R root stock is also another trick. 110R can be overly aggressive but tolerates acidic soil well. I have many combinations of root stocks and scions and they all thrive in old sandy cow pasture with the natural ph of my topsoil being 5.1 and subsoil being 4.9.

Also, commercial fertilizer is not the best solution for making healthy dirt. I use composted cow manure for nitrogen and not much of that, soft rock phosphate for slow release phosphorous, and granite dust for potassium and trace minerals. I broadcast a small amount of organic fertilizer in row middles once or twice a year. Super phosphates down regulate the gene in vines that allow the mycorrhorizae to connect and feed the vines and nitrates invite a host of evils. Healthy dirt makes healthy vines. I'm on year eight now growing around fifteen varieties of vinifera and making killer wine in the deep south. Good luck!
Thanks - I am going to be working in lime as deep as I can get it - my soil has pretty high sulfur so gypsum might be problematic. How much soft rock phosphate and granite dust do you typically apply? Here's my soil sample (attached)
 

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dwhill40

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That's an interesting soil profile. I can't give you a good measure on the application of gypsum as I have applied it over years. For the organic minerals i follow application info I find online when there is consensus from several sources. My topsoil and subsoil is classified as sand so what I apply may be different for clay soil. Normally high acidity comes from extreme rain. What kind of soil do you have that can be so extreme. Alabama gets more rain than Washington state so I thought I was in the extreme. You can always grow test vines before you invest in rows. My first purchase was one each of ten different varieties and a bunch of dug up Cab vines a vineyard owner let me have.
 

HanksHill

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This soil is classified as Sandy loam and I believe the acidity came from oak trees that used to be there. We do get a good bit of rain in MD but there’s many successful vineyards, I just think it’s the oak leaves rotting over all those years. It’s on a cleared hillside and we already turned all the soil in the rows with an excavator so I think whatever we put down will have a decent shot of getting into the soil profile.
 
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