Control of Iron Chlorosis in Ornamental and Crop Plants

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Utah State University Extension

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Iron deficiency (iron chlorosis) affects many desirable landscape and crop plants grown in Utah. The primary symptom of iron deficiency is interveinal chlorosis, the development of a bright yellow leaf with a network of dark green veins (photo 1). In severe cases, the entire leaf turns yellow or white and the outer edges may scorch and turn brown as the plant cells die. It is common for an individual branch or one half of a tree to be chlorotic while the remainder of the tree appears normal (photo 2). In some areas vegetation from the entire landscapes may be affected, while in others only the most susceptible plants show deficiency symptoms. Yellow leaves indicate a lack of chlorophyll, the green pigment responsible for photosynthesis (sugar production) in plants. Any reduction in chlorophyll during the growing season can reduce plant growth and vigor. In addition, chlorotic plants often produce smaller fruits of poor quality with bitter flavor. In severe cases, or if iron chlorosis persists over several years, individual limbs or the entire plant may die.

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