Guide to Maize Nutrient Deficiency

Identify nutrient deficiencies in maize with this ICL Guide

3 mins
Time Técnico ICL

Maize is an essential crop in global agriculture, playing an important role in food security. It is vital for growers to understand and quickly identify nutrient deficiencies that can affect maize growth and development to ensure high yield and quality at harvest.

Maize, like all crops, requires 14 essential nutrients to thrive. Monitoring the health of crops and quickly identifying any deficiencies in these nutrients minimizes any impact nutrient deficiencies could have on the yield and quality of the maize crop. In this guide, we explore the visual indicators of maize nutrient deficiencies and provide valuable information to help detect and resolve these issues promptly in the field.

ICL has a complete portfolio of plant nutrition products for maize cultivation, which includes products designed to meet the specific nutrient requirements of maize to maximize yield and quality. To find out more, contact our technical team.

Learn how to identify nutrient deficiency in maize

Nitrogen deficiency

Symptoms of nitrogen deficiency are seen on older leaves first, where yellowing begins at the tip and extends in a V-shape towards the middle of the leaf.

Phosphorus deficiency

Phosphorus-deficient maize plants exhibit reduced growth. The leaves of phosphorus-deficient plants turn a purple-red color, particularly on young plants.

Potassium deficiency

Potassium deficiency symptoms include brown scorching and curling of the leaf tips and the margins of lower leaves.

Calcium deficiency

Calcium and boron deficiency symptoms can be very similar. With calcium deficiency, the leaves typically become curled and have waves or wrinkles on the leaf blade, the leaf margins develop a fine yellowing, and there can be drying and necrosis of the margins of the youngest leaves.

Magnesium deficiency

Magnesium deficiency causes whitish stripes (interveinal chlorosis) parallel to the main vein and may develop a purple color on the underside of older leaves.

Sulfur deficiency

Uniform chlorosis of the youngest leaves, along with reduced plant and leaf growth, reduced flowering, and yellowish leaf color, are all symptoms of sulfur deficiency.

Boron deficiency

The leaf blade begins to wrinkle, and the leaf tissue loses its uniformity. Furthermore, in more extreme cases, fruit malformation occurs due to non-pollination.

Copper deficiency

With copper deficiency, young maize leaves yellow as soon as they begin to unfurl, then the tips curl, show necrosis, and exhibit stripes similar to those caused by a lack of iron and manganese. Necrosis may occur on the edges of older leaves, similar to potassium deficiency (Embrapa Milho and Sorgo, 2009).

Manganese deficiency

Manganese-deficient maize leaves exhibit interveinal chlorosis (whitish stripes) on new leaves, which spreads over time to all leaves. These symptoms are similar to iron deficiency.

Zinc deficiency

White or yellowish bands occur between the main vein and the leaf margins in zinc-deficient maize. These bands may be followed by necrosis and purple tones, while new leaves unfurling in the growth region are whitish or pale yellow in color, with short internodes (Embrapa Milho and Sorgo, 2009).

Iron deficiency

The youngest leaves of iron-deficient maize crops exhibit interveinal chlorosis (whitish stripes) along the entire length of the leaf blade, with only the veins remaining green. These symptoms are similar to manganese deficiency.

Recipe for Success

Successful maize production requires effective agricultural practices and an in-depth understanding of the nutrient deficiencies that can impact the crop’s development. This guide provides valuable information to help visually identify specific nutrient deficiencies in maize, highlighting the clear indicators for each essential nutrient.

ICL’s complete portfolio of maize cultivation products demonstrates our commitment to advancing agriculture and promoting healthy and productive harvests. We have created plant nutrition solutions to meet the specific needs of each crop, enabling farmers to reach new levels of productivity.

When faced with nutrient challenges in the field, our technical team is available to provide expert support and guidance, ensuring your maize crop reaches its full potential.

Quickly identifying nutrient deficiencies using the visual indicators described above, such as yellowing, leaf burn, and chlorosis, and acting proactively to correct these problems is vital to maximize maize yield. Investing in this knowledge and the appropriate nutrition solutions to resolve any nutrient deficiencies will ensure growers achieve both high quantity and quality in maize harvests.