man overlooking pond
Photo: Brian Milne

Water sampling has helped growers identify Chloride, Sodium issues in the spring.

By Brian Milne, Vice President, Director of Marketing & Communications The Holloway Group

Spring is here, and following a rash of winter storms, some California growers have run into water quality issues as they begin to run their irrigation systems.  

Early-season water sampling by the Holloway Agronomy Team in recent years has shown compromised water sources in multiple counties, both from wells and district sources, due to flooding, prolonged drought, buildup and aging wells. This makes it imperative that growers get their irrigation water tested early in the season.

According to Holloway Director of Agronomy, Steve Lenander, “both well and district sources need to be tested to ensure that toxic levels of Sodium (Na) and Chloride (Cl) do not exist” before growers start pouring on the water this spring.

Lenander added that Chloride is an anion that can be leached with water early in the season as long as the soil remains open and penetrates well.

On the other hand, Sodium is a cation and will attach to soil particles and become toxic to the crop. Fortunately, Sodium can be displaced with a heavier cation in calcium.

In both instances, Lenander points out, a customized gypsum application can offset the ill-effects of poor water quality and also improve penetration and soil health.

“Water is our No. 1 input,” Lenander concluded. “Now is the time to get out there and get water samples, to ensure the water you’re putting on isn’t going to hurt the crop. If we can discover an issue today, it’s going to prevent a lot of headaches later in the season.”

This spring, our agronomist team recommends testing all irrigation water sources for the common issues found in your region’s specific water supplies.

And the sooner the better given the narrow window for early-season sampling and associated applications. As the crop develops and the weather warms, tree limbs get heavier and start to droop, which makes running application equipment a lot harder on the crop, equipment and operators.

Contact Holloway at for more information on soil, water and tissue sampling programs.

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