Diagnosing corn early-season growth problems
Phosphorus deficiency. This can result in stunted growth and purple leaves early in the growing season. Phosphorus deficiency is often enhanced by cool, wet growing conditions.
Iron deficiency. This can cause upper leaves to be pale green between the veins. Iron deficiency is more common on high pH and calcareous soils.
Sulfur deficiency. This can result in stunted plants having pale green leaves, with no distinct pattern on the leaves.
Herbicide injury. This is not as common now as in the past, but can still occur. Corn is very susceptible to injury from carryover sulfonylurea herbicides which may have been applied to a previous crop, such as wheat. Carryover depends on soil pH, soil texture, application rates, rainfall, and other factors listed on the herbicide labels. Symptoms include stunting, chlorosis, and an overall sickly appearance. Corn will not grow out of this type of injury.
For more details, see “Diagnosing Corn Production Problems in Kansas,” K-State publication S-54, at: http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/bookstore/pubs/S54.pdf
Also, see “Corn Production Handbook,” K-State publication C-560, at: http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/bookstore/pubs/C560.pdf
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