Nutrient Deficiency Symptoms Point Wise Notes For Competitive Exam

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Nutrient deficiency

• When nutrient is not present in sufficient quantity, plant growth is affected. Plants may not show visual symptoms up to a certain level of nutrient content, but growth is affected and this situation is known as hidden hunger.

• Deficiency symptoms of mobile nutrients like N, P, K, Mg and Mo appear on lower leaves or older leaves.

• In K and Mo deficiency dead spots occur.

• In N, P and Mg deficiency there are no dead spots.

• In Mg deficiency veins remain green.

• In N deficiency veins are yellow.

• Deficiency symptoms of less mobile elements like S, Fe, Mn and Cu appear on new leaves.

• In Fe and Mn deficiency veins are green.

• In S and Cu deficiency veins are yellow.

• Deficiency symptoms of immobile nutrients like Ca and B appear on terminal buds.

Chlorine deficiency is less common in crops.

Indicator plants are also used as a diagnostic tool for plant nutrient deficiencies.

Nutrient Deficiency symptoms
N 1) Uniform yellowing of leaves including veins

2) Leaves become stiff and erect in cereals

3) Leaf may detach after a little forceful pull in extreme deficiency in dicotyledonous crops

4) Cereal crops show characteristic ‘V’ shaped yellowing at the tip of lower leaves

P 1) Leaves are small, erect, unusually dark green with a greenish red, greenish brown or purplish tinge

2) Rear side of leaf develops bronzy appearance

Mg 1) Causes yellowing but differs from nitrogen

2) Yellowing takes place between veins and veins remain green

3) Leaf is not erect

4) Leaf detaches very easily and may be shed by blowing wind

5) Necrosis occurs in extreme cases only in the margins

Mo 1) Translucent spots of irregular shape in between the veins of leaves

2) Spots are light green, yellow or brown in colour

3) Affected spots are impregnated with resinous gum which exudes from rear side of the leaf from the reddish brown spots

Fe 1) Veins remain green

2) Principal veins remain conspicuously green and other portions of the leaf turn yellow tending towards whiteness

3) Under severe deficiency, most part of the leaf becomes white

Mn 1) Veins remain green

2) Principal veins as well as smaller veins are green

3) Interveinal portion is yellowish, not tending towards whiteness

4) Dead spots appear at later stage

5) Chequered appearance of the leaf

S 1) Leaf becomes yellowish

2) Looks like nitrogen deficient leaf

3) Leaf is small

4) Veins are paler than interveinal portion

5) No dead spots appear

6) Plant does not lose lower leaves as in the case of N deficiency

Cu 1) Leaf is yellowish tending towards whiteness

2) In extreme deficiency, chlorosis of veins occur and leaf loses lustre

3) Leaf is unable to retain its turgidity hence wilting occurs

4) Leaf detaches due to water soaked conditions of the base of petiole

Ca 1) Bud leaf becomes chlorotic white with the base remaining green

2) About one-third chlorotic portion of the tip hooks downward and becomes brittle

3) Death of terminal bud occurs in extreme cases

B 1) Yellowing or chlorosis which starts from the base to tip

2) Tip becomes very much elongated into a whip like structure and becomes brownish or blackish brown

3) Death of terminal bud occurs in extreme cases

Zn 1) Leaves become narrow and small. Lamina becomes chlorotic, veins remain green

2) Dead spots develop all over the leaf including veins, tips and margins

3) In cereals deficiency appears on 2-4 leaves from the top during vegetative stage

4) Plants appear bushy due to reduced intermodal elongation

5) Panicle fails to emerge completely or emerges partially


Deficient nutrient Indicator plant
N Cauliflower, cabbage
P Rapeseed
K Potato
Ca Cauliflower, cabbage
Mg Potato
Fe Sugarbeet
Mn Sugar Beet, oat, potato
B Sugarbeet


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