Rainy conditions in Georgia have leached some nutrients in corn fields, and one of them is sulfur. Sulfur is a nutrient that is not needed in high amounts but is needed by plants, especially corn. Sulfur is classified as a secondary element. In one of my soils classes at UGA we talked about that when we burned lots of coal, sulfur dioxide was put into the air and made it to our fields, but now we have to supply more than long ago.
Sulfur is essential in forming plant proteins and deficient plants look very pale yellow especially in new growth areas as it is not well translocated to new growth as some nutrients are. Cold wet soils delay the release of sulfur from organic matter as well.
Also, we can run into a problem when our N:S ratio is too high. In other words we need a certain amount of sulfur to go with our nitrogen and if we don’t have it then the Nitrogen doesn’t do as much good for the plants as it should.
In corn we want this ratio to be less than 16:1 or we don’t have enough sulfur in the plants. This tissue sample taken last week in a very yellow corn field shows this problem.