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How can you tell if a fertilizer is a "slow-release"? What are the best NPK ratios for this area?

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A

Slow-release fertilizers are typically more expensive than quick release formulations but provide an extended release of nitrogen over many weeks so you don’t have to apply them as often.  Slow-release nitrogen available to homeowners is usually found in the form of sulfur coated urea (SCU) or can also be polymer-coated urea (PCU).  The labels on the fertilizers are typically clearly marked with one of these two acronyms.  Keep in mind that the slow-release is associated with the nitrogen.  It is difficult to give you specific recommendations on a fertilizer ratio to use in your yard without knowing what type of soil you have.  Soils act as a reservoir for plant nutrients.  Utah State University offers soil tests that will help you determine what nutrient load your soil has with regard the phosphorus (P) and potassium (K).  A general tests costs approximately $14.00 and you can pick up a kit at any USU Extension Office.  I can tell you that typically Utah soils have plenty of P and K.  Nitrogen is typically always recommended as an addition each year because plants need it in the greatest quantity and it is also very mobile in the soil.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.

Posted on 6 Aug 2008

Jaydee Gunnell
Master Gardner and Horticulture Agent, Davis County

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