Pick up know-how for tackling diseases, pests and weeds.
Farm bill, farm marketing, agribusiness webinars, & farm policy.
Find tactics for healthy livestock and sound forages.
Scheduling and methods of irrigation.
Explore our Extension locations around the state.
Commercial row crop production in Arkansas.
Agriculture weed management resources.
Use virtual and real tools to improve critical calculations for farms and ranches.
Learn to ID forages and more.
Explore our research locations around the state.
Get the latest research results from our county agents.
Our programs include aquaculture, diagnostics, and energy conservation.
Keep our food, fiber and fuel supplies safe from disaster.
Private, Commercial & Non-commercial training and education.
Specialty crops including turfgrass, vegetables, fruits, and ornamentals.
Find educational resources and get youth engaged in agriculture.
Gaining garden smarts and sharing skills.
Timely tips for the Arkansas home gardener.
Creating beauty in and around the home.
Maintenance calendar, and best practices.
Coaxing the best produce from asparagus to zucchini.
What’s wrong with my plants? The clinic can help.
Featured trees, vines, shrubs and flowers.
Ask our experts plant, animal, or insect questions.
Enjoying the sweet fruits of your labor.
Herbs, native plants, & reference desk QA.
Growing together from youth to maturity.
Crapemyrtles, hydrangeas, hort glossary, and weed ID databases.
Get beekeeping, honey production, and class information.
Grow a pollinator-friendly garden.
Schedule these timely events on your gardening calendar.
Equipping individuals to lead organizations, communities, and regions.
Guiding communities and regions toward vibrant and sustainable futures.
Guiding entrepreneurs from concept to profit.
Position your business to compete for government contracts.
Find trends, opportunities and impacts.
Providing unbiased information to enable educated votes on critical issues.
Increase your knowledge of public issues & get involved.
Research-based connection to government and policy issues.
Support Arkansas local food initiatives.
Read about our efforts.
Preparing for and recovering from disasters.
Licensing for forestry and wildlife professionals.
Preserving water quality and quantity.
Cleaner air for healthier living.
Firewood & bioenergy resources.
Managing a complex forest ecosystem.
Read about nature across Arkansas and the U.S.
Learn to manage wildlife on your land.
Soil quality and its use here in Arkansas.
Learn to ID unwanted plant and animal visitors.
Timely updates from our specialists.
Eating right and staying healthy.
Ensuring safe meals.
Take charge of your well-being.
Cooking with Arkansas foods.
Making the most of your money.
Making sound choices for families and ourselves.
Nurturing our future.
Get tips for food, fitness, finance, and more!
Understanding aging and its effects.
Giving back to the community.
Managing safely when disaster strikes.
Listen to our latest episode!
April 2, 2016
Where and how do I send a soil sample for my garden?
A pint of dry soil is needed for each sample you want tested. Typically we recommend
taking separate samples from a vegetable garden, flower/shrub garden and lawn. A
pint is needed for each sample you want tested. In the garden you are testing get
a core sample of soil from a variety of spots—4-10 areas in the garden depending on
the size of the garden. Mix the soil together from each garden type and then take
the samples in to your local county extension office. There they will fill out an
information form with your contact information plus what you are growing. In roughly
two weeks you will receive a computer printout with the data from your soil along
with recommendations on whether or not you need to lime and fertilize.
I am writing to see if you can give me some tips on blueberry cultivation. I've had
these bushes for four years and I keep losing one or two each year. I have watered
and fertilized in the spring, then used Miracle Grow throughout the summer. Still,
they keep dying on the tips and then I soon have a whole branch that is gone. Then
the plant dies. These are within easy reach of the hose and I have installed drip
irrigation. I had a soil test in January, 2011 which revealed a soil ph of 7.2. I
added 10 pounds of sulfur per 1,000 square feet to acidify the soil. They are also
mulched with pine needles. They have a few berries but last year the birds wiped them
I think you have a couple of issues. First of all, blueberries need a well drained,
acidic soil. From the pictures you sent me, I think they should be planted a bit higher
with mounds of soil and mulch—basically a raised row of soil. This ensures good drainage.
While they like ample moisture, they can’t tolerate wet feet. pH is also critical.
They need a very acidic soil around 5-5.5. 7.2 could cause them to die. The last picture
showed some pretty yellow leaves with green veins—a sure sign that the pH is too high.
The plants can’t absorb the nutrients in the soil if the pH is not in the proper range,
which can cause the iron chlorosis you are experiencing. Get the pH in range, and
mound up the plantings. Drip irrigation is great. When you lose a plant and dig it
up, does it have any roots left, or have they rotted? Mulching with pine needles is
great, but make sure the plants aren’t staying too wet and that you don’t have them
planted too deep.
The soil is the foundation of a garden. The healthier the soil, the healthier and
more resilient your plants will be. Too many of us in Arkansas are blessed with more
rocks than soil, but even those who do have decent soil often lack organic matter.
Building up a strong soil and amending with organic matter in the form of compost,
gives plants a better start in life and makes them easier to maintain. When amending
soil, it is best to blend in your amendments with the existing soil. Creating a homogenous
mix will encourage rooting better than layering in different soil types. Fall is also
an excellent time to test your soil to find out what the pH is and determine nutrient
levels, so that you are prepared for the next growing season. The pH of the soil determines
the level of acidity of the soil. It is measured in a range of 0 – 14. 7 is considered
neutral, while below 7 is acid and above 7 is alkaline. Most plants like a slightly
acidic soil, between 6-6.5. Blueberries and azaleas like it even more acidic, getting
in the range of 5 – 5.5. Many soils in Arkansas are acidic, and we occasionally need
to add lime to raise the pH. A soil test will determine whether you need to lime or
not. It will also tell you how much lime to use. Lime that can be mixed into the soil
will give quicker results, than lime that is laid on the soil surface. To test your
soil, take slices of soil from the surface down around six inches. Get soil from 6-10
different spots in your yard or garden for each sample you are taking. Mix it together
and take one pint of soil for each sample into your local county extension office.
Many gardeners test their lawns, vegetable gardens and flower gardens separately,
since they treat them differently. Within two to three weeks you will get a computer
printout mailed to you with the results, and recommendations on what to do.
We have a raised garden which we have planted for ten years. My question is that every
year my tomatoes look beautiful until they begin to put on tomatoes. Then the vines
begin to turn yellow and no amount of spraying or watering seems to help. Is the soil
just needing something or should we just not use this garden for a year and cover
it with plastic to maybe rid it of the bacteria or whatever causes this blight. Is
there anything I can put into the soil to help it?
We strongly encourage crop rotation--not planting in the same spot for three years.
When you plant over and over again in the same spot, diseases build up and hit you
earlier and earlier each season. While there are some pesticides for certain diseases,
many of the soil borne problems are not covered. Solarize your soil now. You are getting
a little late for 100% effectiveness, but try. Till the soil, thoroughly wet it and
cover with clear plastic for at least 6-8 weeks. Test the soil this fall and see what
the pH is and what your nutritional levels are. When you choose new plants next spring,
look for disease resistance--VFN following the name. Try to divide the bed into thirds
and plant one third with tomatoes next year, the next year in a different third and
then the latter third in the third year. This can help.
Can you tell me how to get started getting soil samples analyzed? I need to know how
to take the samples (all samples in one container or different containers with different
samples of dirt from various parts of the yard). I would like to get an analysis so
I can figure out how to treat my yard. I have several things going on from big round
brown spots to mossy spots in my yard.
The proper way to take a soil sample is to dig up a slice or core of soil from a minimum
of 6 to ten spots in the yard that you are testing, and mix them together in a bucket.
Then take a pint of that blended soil in to your local county extension office. You
need one pint per sample tested, and the soil should be relatively dry since they
are shipped in cardboard containers. For a normal lawn one sample should suffice.
Taking multiple samples from a lawn doesn’t make a lot of sense since you typically
fertilize and care for a lawn with one general application. If you have a spot in
your lawn that is really different from the rest—mossy or dead, you can take a separate
sample from that area to compare to the general lawn to help determine the cause of
the problem. You can also take separate samples from flower beds or vegetable gardens,
since you would normally treat them separately. Keep in mind that many folks think
about soil testing the day they want to fertilize, and it does take two to three weeks
to get your report back, so give yourself some time.
Is there any way to treat soil that would help fight tomato wilt? The only information
I can find in garden books is to "buy disease resistant plants" and throw away the
ones affected. I bought disease resistant plants and for the second year in a row,
my tomato plants are healthy and have tomatoes on them one day and are wilted and
dead the next. It is very discouraging. Can I plant anything in the fall (like clover)
that might aid in cleansing the soil?
Many tomato diseases are soil-borne. That means they persist in the soil for years
and can attack your tomatoes quicker each season. Planting disease resistant varieties
helps, but only to a point. For one thing, disease resistance doesn’t cover every
disease out there. Secondly, a new strain of the disease can build up especially if
you plant over and over again in the same area. Rotating tomatoes in the garden is
ideal, but again, that alone may not do the trick. The best idea is to sterilize your
soil using soil solarization. Till the soil as deep as you can, then saturate the
soil, getting it really wet. Once you have wet the soil, cover it with clear plastic,
making firm contact between soil and plastic. Leave it covered for six to eight weeks
between July and September and you should start off with clean soil next year. Cover
crops such as clover and vetch can help to build up your soil, but do little to control
diseases. You can also take a plant sample in to your local extension agent when you
have the disease, they can pinpoint exactly which disease issue you have.
I want to have soil tests run on soil samples from my daylily flower beds. How do
I go about it?
To take a soil sample from your daylily beds, go to five or six different locations
in the bed and get a slice of soil roughly four to six inches deep. Mix all of these
together and take one pint to your local county extension office. If you have a problem
spot in the garden, you can take a separate sample from that location to compare to
the rest. There you will fill out a form, and they will send it to the soil testing
lab, and you should have a computer printout back within two to three weeks.
I'm new to Arkansas and have bought some acreage north of Batesville. It includes
bottomland and a raised meadow (the grassy knoll) which I fear is a huge gravel pile
covered with a little topsoil. Don't know that, but I fear it. When I dig, I immediately
hit marble sized rocks. I have mail ordered some pecan and chestnut trees. Both say
plant in well drained, moist soil. I'm guessing that the grassy knoll will drain well,
but I don't know if it is suitable for my nut trees. By the way, the adjoining land
is covered in cedar and oak trees. What do you think?
Just looking at soil and the lay of the land, really doesn't indicate internal soil
drainage. You need to dig a hole as deep as you plan to plant your trees then fill
it with water until the water stands. See how long before the water drains. That should
give you an indication of drainage. Planting, much less digging, and then growing
can be a challenge in extremely rocky soil, but much of Arkansas is in the same boat,
and we have lots of plants, so it is doable. Get a soil test, test for drainage and
see if you can amend the soil in an area at least three times the width of the planting
hole with compost, incorporating that with the existing soil. Give your pecan trees
plenty of room to grow, since they are large trees at maturity.
Could you please let me know how to get the soil in my flower beds tested? Last year,
I planted many annuals and perennials and they did not bloom well.
Dig down six inches and take a slice of soil from several areas of the flower bed.
Mix them together and take a pint of soil in to your local county extension office.
They will send it to the soil lab and you will have a computer printout telling you
what to do in a couple of weeks.
When we moved into a new house in Bella Vista six years ago, I had the yard sodded
with Bermuda. It has never done well. After maintaining it myself for two years, I
contracted with a Lawn Service in an effort for improvement - and the lawn is still
very poor. The grass is never truly green. The Bermuda refuses to aggressively crawl,
the turf is thin, and it appears not to be deep rooted and can, in fact, be pulled
quite easily. I have no idea as to the quality of the soil - I would like to have
it tested but do not know where to take a soil sample for analysis. I see Bermuda
in many areas which looks much better than mine - alongside the road, vacant lots
etc. - and haven't a clue as to what is wrong with mine. Do you have any advice? Would
appreciate your help.
I would suspect two problems. If your yard is shady, Bermuda is not going to grow.
Also, if you have a typical Bella Vista yard, you have pitiful rocky soil. The combination
of shade and no soil does not bode well for grass. Bermuda does the best in poor soils
of any of our lawn grasses, but it also needs the most sun. At least six to eight
hours a day is needed. Bermuda also responds the best to nitrogen fertilizer. It can
be fertilized monthly from May through August. To have your soil tested for pH and
nutritional levels take a pint of soil to your local county extension office. If shade
is a factor, consider growing a ground cover or mulching, since I would much prefer
shade than grass in an Arkansas summer. For a complete list of county extension office
addresses visit our website at www.uaex.uada.edu then click on "find us".
I have 8 encore azaleas in the front flower bed. Seven of them have done well over
the past 5 years but one of them I have had to replace 3 times since every one has
died in that location. I have read how to plant azaleas to make sure that each time
I have planted them correctly. The plant in question is right over where the main
water line goes into my house and was wondering if that might have any affect on the
azalea. I do not see any water each time I have planted a new one. Is there anything
I could do to make that one area acceptable for an azalea and if not what do you suggest
I plant in that location that would go with my other 7 azaleas.
I think you first need to find out what is wrong with the site before you put any
more plants in. There should be no water leaking out of your water line—or that would
be a problem. If you see no water in the planting hole when you pull up the dead plant
that is good, but do test the drainage. Dig a hole the depth you would plant an azalea
there and fill it with water until the water stands. Then time it to see how long
it takes to drain. If there is still standing water after 6 hours, azaleas would struggle.
If you do determine that water is a factor, see if you can redirect water or try raising
the planting level. If water is not a factor, take a soil sample from the area where
the azaleas are thriving and a separate sample from where it is dying--then compare.
I would not plant anything else until a little more investigating is done.
We have a large garden for vegetables as well as several flower gardens. We would
like to have our soil tested to see if we should add anything prior to the springtime
plantings. Is there a specific amount of soil needed to be submitted for testing?
Should several samples be blended together before testing, or should separate samples
from different areas be submitted?
You need a pint of soil for each area you want tested. If you basically treat the
entire vegetable garden the same, then only one sample is needed in the vegetable
garden, and a separate sample from the flower bed. If you have a problem area, you
may want to test it separately. For each sample you are testing, take soil from several
areas, trying to get a good profile-(from the top down 6 inches). Mix this together
in a bucket and take a pint for each one -- labeling them in a way that you will know
what they are when they come back -- not just 1, 2, 3, unless you know which is which.
Take your samples to your local county extension office. They will fill out a brief
information sheet and send that and your soil to the soil testing lab in Marianna.
You should have a computer print out back within two weeks.
All links to external sites open in a new window. You may return to the University
of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture web site by closing this window when you
are finished. We do not guarantee the accuracy of the information, or the accessibility
for people with disabilities listed at any external site.
Links to commercial sites are provided for information and convenience only. Inclusion
of sites does not imply University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture's approval
of their product or service to the exclusion of others that may be similar, nor does
it guarantee or warrant the standard of the products or service offered.
The mention of any commercial product in this web site does not imply its endorsement
by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture over other products not
named, nor does the omission imply that they are not satisfactory.