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Extension > Local Extension Offices > Stearns > County Horticulture Educator > Articles > Garden Issues: Nutrient Deficiencies

Garden Issues: Nutrient Deficiencies

Nitrogen deficiency, cauliflower Carl Rosen, University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
May 13, 2015

Source:  Beth Berlin, Extension Educator-Horticulture
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties


Garden Issues: Nutrient Deficiencies
By Beth Berlin, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (05/13/15) — All gardeners, whether flower or vegetable, have the same goal in mind to grow healthy, beautiful, productive plants. Nutrition is a key to meeting this goal; including supply and balance.  Plants need sunlight, water, and nutrients to grow; with a particular combination of 16 nutrients for optimal growth and production.

Nutrients are broken down into two separate categories, micro and macro. Macro or major nutrients plants need are calcium, carbon, chlorine, hydrogen, iron, magnesium, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur. Micronutrients needed by plants include boron, copper, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc.  Plants that lack or are in excess of these nutrients may show symptoms, and not perform well.  Nutrient deficiency and excess symptoms shown by plants include:
Nitrogen (N): Deficiency – Pale green to yellow leaves, oldest leaves impacted first; stunted growth; more common on sandy soils Excess – Excessive vegetative growth with poor fruit production
Phosphorus (P): Deficiency – Reddish-purple leaves, oldest impacted first; stunted growth; frequent in acidic or alkaline soils Excess – Impacts plant by inducing zinc or iron uptake deficiency
Potassium (K): Deficiency – Gray or tan areas near margin of leaves; oldest leaves impacted first with scorching appearance at leaf margin; more common on sandy soils  Excess: Salt burn, yellowing between veins on lower leaves; magnesium deficiency can occur in sandy soils with high potassium levels
Calcium (Ca): Deficiency – New, young top leaves of plant may die or show browning or scorched leaf edges; slow root growth or root tip die-back; blossom end rot on tomatoes due to calcium deficiency or uptake Excess – None known in Minnesota
Iron (Fe):  Deficiency – Leaves yellowing between veins, veins remain green; often occurring on high alkaline soils Excess – High levels of iron may induce manganese deficiency
Copper (Cu): Deficiency – Leaves yellowing between veins, veins remain green; often occurring on high alkaline soils Excess – May induce iron chlorosis and cause stunted root systems
Manganese (Mn): Deficiency – Leaves yellowing between veins, veins remain green; often occurring on high alkaline soils Excess – Brown spots on leaves and chlorosis

For more detailed information about all plant nutrients visit http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/fruit-vegetable/diagnosing-nutrient-disorders/

Having a soil test done will be helpful to determine your existing soil nutrient conditions.  You will receive information on your current nutrient levels and receive fertilizer recommendations. Contact your local Extension office for information on having a soil test completed for a fee or visit http://soiltest.cfans.umn.edu/ 
 

PHOTO CREDIT: Nitrogen deficiency, cauliflower Carl Rosen, University of Minnesota

Contacts

Beth Berlin
Extension Educator, Horticulture
(320) 255-6169
adam0062@umn.edu
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