With this part I would like to take a slightly different approach than I did in part one and two. So maybe it will be more reader friendlier with some applicable ideas.
There are a lot of myths out there, some are right and some are questionable. But what is interesting is when they are both right and wrong, the difference is when they are applied, making them right or wrong. The first myth I would like to discuss is "high elevation is better, low elevation is bad for quality of the plant or the food it produces".
Here goes, as plants grow in the higher elevation they have a shorter growing season, so when considered over many years you end up having a low of crow cycles rotations as compared to lower elevations. Lets use these figures, as these are figures that I know for a fact to be pretty accurate. At the 6500 ft. to 7000 ft. elevation a person might be lucky on a year in and year out comparison have about a 75 to 80 growing cycle. So you are limited in the number of crops that can be harvested and only maybe 1 crop or 2 per year. Hay might give you 2 crops and a grain or potato crop will give you one crop. So over a 10 year period you have maybe say 14 or 15 crop cycles at the most. Each crop cycle will remove a given amount per year. Also, in cases that might apply to us there have only been maybe 100 to 200 crop cycles in these areas in modern history.
As a general rule some of the mined mineral have been put back, but usually this has been limited to the 3 big by, N, P and K (Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potassium). In only the past few years have many agronomists have began to figure out the value of trace elements. But since there are about 72 Minerals that should be addressed...does it take you long to connect those dots? Why I say 72 is that there is some discussion about several more that hasn't been considered that are moving to the group of 72, so maybe that figure is slightly more.
Many of these are trace and in some cases very trace minerals, but very important as many of these are controls for the majors. Plus growing in the higher elevations you end up with a more ideal rate of growth for the plants. Super hot temperatures will grow lot of foliage and fast but at the cost of quality. There is a figure here that is considered an important marker and that is GDU or Growing Day Units. I feel like that is a term and its importance is slightly diminished when some of these other factors are considered. But, anyway, we need to look at the lower elevations at this point.
In lower elevations and here we will use Sea Level to say 500 ft. in say Southern California. Now in these ares you have an almost full calendar growing conditions, or close to it. Now in these crops lands you can get if same crops are considered, 8 to 10 crops of Hay, 2 to 3 crops of grains and potatoes. So on average, same figures, you will end up with a crop cycle history of in the range of approaching or going over 1000, for the same time frame. They have used the 3 big boys, plus a lot of the trace minerals for a number of years. So with mining, that looks pretty rough, still.
Now as we look at this it helps us to answer one reason why the higher elevations produce better quality crops, less cycles having been mined from the soil. In addition to the slow growth which allows the physiological and biological actions to take place in the order they need to and at their preferred pace. Then we have the Organic material factor to consider. Now this gets to be a big can of worms. The Organic matter in the soil is one that has a very delicate recipe that has to be followed in order for a proper development to occur. And that I will talk about next week as the final part of this four part series.
Have a great week everyone!
Written by Kent King.