Common Nutrient Deficiency Symptoms in Corn

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Nitrogen (N) Deficiencies in Corn

nitrogen deficiency

Symptom: Yellow coloration in a 'V' shaped pattern

  • Pattern progresses from leaf end to leaf collar
  • Pattern progresses from lower to upper leaves
Causes Remedies
Under-application of N fertilizer needs
Appropriate fertilizer N application
Underestimation of N release in manure
Analyze manure for N content
Leaching of nitrate (rainfall/irrigation)
Apply irrigation level appropriate for soil
Loss of N as a gas after water ponding or in compacted sites
Install drainage tiles in heavier soils and/or minimize field compaction
Onset of dryer weather
Irrigate if possible

 

Phosphorous (P) Deficiencies in Corn

phosphorus deficiency

Symptom: Purple coloration of lower leaves

Causes Remedies
Under-application of P fertilizer needs
Apply fertilizer P as a 'starter' application
Cooler/wetter weather (environmental)
Avoid earliest planting dates (warmer weather can correct symptoms)
Planted P inefficient hybrids
Plant P efficient hybrids
Inherited tendency of some hybrids
 

 

Potassium (K) Deficiencies in Corn

potassium deficiency 1potassium 5 rev

Symptom: Yellow and brown coloration of leaf margins

  • Occurs first on lower leaves
  • May progress to upper leaves
Causes Remedies
Under-application of K fertilizer needs
Apply appropriate fertilizer K rate
Cooler/wetter weather (environmental)
Avoid earliest planting dates (warmer weather can correct symptoms)
Planted K inefficient hybrids
Plant K efficient hybrids

 

Sulfur (S) Deficiencies in Corn

sulfur deficiency

Symptom: Yellow coloration in a striping or interveinal chlorosis pattern

  • Generally found in younger leaves
Causes Remedies
under-application of S fertilizer needs 
Apply appropriate fertilizer S levels after soil testing
reduced mineralization of organic -S to sulfate-S because of reduced soil temperatures or lower soil organic matter levels:
  1. fields with eroded knolls and hillsides have lower organic matter than rest of the field
  2. mineralization of organic-S to sulfate-S in fields under no-till cultivation is reduced compared to cultivated fields
 
  1. Analyze soil organic matter content (deficiencies are generally found in no-till soils with organic matter content of <2.5%)
  2. Apply fertilizer in sulfate form as ammonium sulfate or ammonium thiosulfate . Elemental S may take several years to increase sulfate-S levels. 

 

Zinc (Zn) Deficiencies in Corn

zinc deficiency

Symptom: Yellow coloration in broad bands

  • Occurs in upper leaves
  • Occurs in leaf middle, may progress outward
Causes Remedies
Under-application of Zn fertilizer needs
Apply appropriate fertilizer Zn needs as starter fertilizer
(Zn-Chelates are not recommended due to high cost)
Soil has high pH (>7.5)
Avoid planting in very high pH soils