Fall is the Best Time to Add Lime

Jarrod O. Miller, Extension Agronomist, jarrod@udel.edu

If you are planning on adding lime to bring your pH up, post-harvest is the best time to do it. Lime can take some time to react with the acidity in your soil, particularly in no-till systems. Following application, your soil pH may be greater than 7 at the surface, only gradually coming down. So if you wait to apply lime in the spring, soil pH may be too high at planting.

Some considerations when liming:

  • Sandy soils are typically lower in micronutrient concentrations and more sensitive to higher pH, so UD recommends a pH 6.0 for these soils. However, the target pH for clay (finer) soils is 6.5. Watch your fields for nutrient deficiencies so you can pinpoint an ideal pH range in the future.
  • Tillage usually mixes lime well, but no-till should definitely be applied in the fall.
  • Does your soil have plenty of magnesium? Find a lime with more calcium this time.
  • Get a cheap pH test kit and monitor your soil pH over the winter.