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Time for Foliar Analysis

July 8, 2011

Today, I’m sharing some information on foliar analysis, prepared by Extension Fruit Specialist, and Arkansas SARE PDP coordinator, Dr. Elena Garcia. I’m sure several of you are starting to get questions on foliar analysis this time of year so here are tips to help you.

Time for Foliar Analysis:

 One valuable method used to determine the nutrient status of an orchard is foliar (leaf and petiole) nutrient analysis.   The results from these tests, along with the soil test, should be used as a guide in assessing the nutritional needs of the plants to provide your orchard with the correct amount of fertilizer needed for plant maintenance, growth and fruit quality.  Quite often growers routinely add fertilizer year after year without knowing what mineral elements the plant actually needs.  This practice can lead to nutritional deficiencies or toxicities with serious consequences in yield and fruit quality.  In addition, growers waste money by applying unneeded fertilizer. Summer is the time that most fruit crops are analyzed for nutrient levels.  Strawberries are the exception; sampling begins when spring growth begins and continues throughout flowering and harvest (approximately March 1–May 30). Foliar analysis should be conducted every year or at least every other year.

Now is the time to collect leaves for foliar analysis.  You can find the collection procedure in the UACES publication FSA 6132: Foliar Sampling for Fruit Trees (


You need to contact your Arkansas County Extension Agent to get: Fruit Crop Foliar Analysis Information Sheet. The lab will not process your samples unless this form is included.  In addition, your agent can answer questions concerning the sampling procedure. 


The collection procedure is very crop specific and it is important to follow it to avoid problems with interpreting the results.

General Sampling Procedure:

1.    Collect samples on the dates indicated in the factsheets.  The nutritional status changes with the different growth stages of the plants.

2.    Different cultivars should be sampled separately.   There are variations in nutrient levels depending on cultivars.

3.    Leaves should be collected from shoots or canes of average vigor (length and diameter).

4.    Do not combine healthy leaves with leaves showing problems.

5.    Do not collect spur leaves.

6.    Do not include damaged leaves.

7.    Remove the leaves by pulling downward so the petiole remains attached to the leaf.

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