How long does fertilizer keep?

watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)March 25, 2007

Specifically, the timed-release pellets. I have some Nutricote and some Peters in the shed that have been there for, oh, 2 to 4 or more years. The shed is under the deck in a corner formed by the house, so it's shaded and somewhat protected, but it has no climate control.

Will the temperature extremes have taken enough of a toll on the fertilizer that I should just chuck it? There's not that much left, but I hate to waste it if it's still OK.

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willcreed

It is my understanding that fertilizers are generally okay for about a year, but they start to deteriorate after that. The deterioration would be faster in a warm and damp environment. If it were mine, I would not take a chance with it.

Hmm, that reminds me I have some closet cleaning to do myself!

Will Creed
Indoor landscaper

    Bookmark   March 25, 2007 at 3:08PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

See if there's a toll free number on the packaging. If not, you can find an information number on line. They will be able to answer the question for you.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2007 at 4:58PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The concept of CRF is a simple one: Manufacturers start with a granular soluble fertilizer, then coat it with a semi-permeable polymer membrane. As water passes through the membrane into the fertilizer core, nutrients within the fertilizer go into suspension (dissolve). Because the concentration of nutrients is higher inside the membrane, nutrients begin to diffuse out through the membrane by a natural process called osmosis. The osmotic release will continue until such time as there is no longer a nutrient concentration difference across the membrane, effectively, until nutrients within the CRF pellets are exhausted. So, CRF actually never goes bad. Even if it's exposed to some moisture and a portion of the fertilizer leaches out from the granules, only a small volume of fertilizer contained within the pellets is affected. As soon as the solute concentration in the area immediately surrounding the pellet equalizes with the concentration inside the pellet, fertilizer inside the pellet can no longer dissolve and pass through the membrane.

Al

    Bookmark   March 25, 2007 at 5:21PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

Al, that makes a great deal of sense. Thank you! They should have stayed dry, so I'm good to go.

How about a water soluble granular fertilizer such as MiracleGro. How long will that store?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2007 at 9:40PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Indefinitely. Even if it gets all gunky from absorbing water from the air, it will still be equally effective as new product, though perhaps not as convenient to use. If it turns to a semi-liquid, remember to measure out less product because there will be little air in what you're using. This would, in effect, make a higher concentration using the same volume (all product - no air).

Al

    Bookmark   March 25, 2007 at 9:50PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

Thanks again, Al! I've never had it get all gunky, just a tad damp, like slightly damp sand. You've saved me from buying a lot of unnecessary fertilizer!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2007 at 10:12PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Indefinitely. Even if it gets all gunky from absorbing water from the air, it will still be equally effective as new product, though perhaps not as convenient to use. If it turns to a semi-liquid, remember to measure out less product because there will be little air in what you're using. This would, in effect, make a higher concentration using the same volume (all product - no air).

Al

    Bookmark   March 25, 2007 at 11:05PM
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Bombeni

This is great to know. I found a truckload of fertilizers today in an outdoor storage closet of a foreclosed condo where I live. Plus two new bottles of weed killer. The place has been vacant for two years so I don't think anyone will be coming back for it. There was an unopened large osmocote, an unopened miracle grow and 3 or 4 other partially used containers of the same. It was like like opening a winning lottery ticket.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 8:51PM
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