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Unlocking the secrets of tree health: how to spot the signs of nutrient deficiencies in trees and learn why prevention is critical to ensuring their longevity
Nutrient deficiencies occur in landscapes where soil’s structure is altered by removing topsoil, compaction, irrigation, or grade changes. When the deficiencies are extreme, visible changes begin to appear. This article highlights the signs of nutrient deficiencies of the most commonly deficient nutrients, including iron, manganese, nitrogen, and phosphorous.
Small Fruits: Nitrogen Deficiency
- When trees and shrubs lack nitrogen, their leaves turn yellow and may fall prematurely. In addition, they produce small fruits. Fertilization is the most common treatment, which can be done through deep-root fertilization. This method supplies nitrogen to the roots and makes it available for uptake by the plant. To avoid nitrogen deficiencies, it is recommended to treat nitrogen-deficient soil periodically.
Chlorosis: Iron Deficiency
- Yellow leaves with green veins are a result of chlorosis. It is often caused by iron deficiency resulting from high soil pH. Soil tests can determine if the pH is too high. Foliar sprays of iron sulfate or chelated iron can also reduce chlorosis symptoms.
Other causes of chlorosis include poor root growth, root rot, root damage, poor drainage, and over-fertilization. Again, young leaves are affected first, with symptoms worsening during cool, wet spring weather.
Yellowing Of Leaves: Manganese Deficiency
- Manganese deficiency in trees presents similar symptoms to iron deficiency, with yellow leaves and green veins that may appear limp and smaller fruit. Treatments include foliar sprays and soil applications. It is essential to note that high soil pH can limit the availability of manganese, just like iron. Therefore, addressing soil pH is crucial in treating manganese deficiencies.
Slow Growth: Phosphorous Deficiency
- Phosphorus (P) is one of the essential nutrients for tree growth and development. Phosphorus is needed for various tree metabolic processes, including photosynthesis, respiration, and energy transfer. It is also essential for the development of root systems. However, the deficiency can impact water and nutrient uptake. A tree deficient in phosphorus shows a range of symptoms.
- One of the earliest symptoms of a phosphorus deficiency is slow growth. Dark green leaves and a decreased leaf size accompany it. Older leaves may turn reddish-purple or yellow, while the veins remain green. Leaves may also be thin and brittle and may fall prematurely. Sometimes, the tree may produce fewer or smaller flowers and fruit.
Phosphorus deficiencies are often caused by low soil pH or the presence of soil organisms that affect phosphorus uptake. In some cases, phosphorus may be present in the soil but in a form that is unavailable to the tree. Soil tests can determine the availability of phosphorus in the soil and identify other nutrients that may limit growth. On the other hand, an over-reliance on phosphorus fertilizers can lead to imbalances in other nutrients. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the tree receives adequate water and balanced nutrients.
What To Do?
- It’s essential to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other factors such as pests, diseases, or environmental stress. So, it’s recommended to have a professional, such as an arborist, evaluate the tree and conduct a soil test to identify any nutrient deficiencies and develop a proper treatment plan. Soil tests can identify the deficient nutrient and the number of nutrients needed to correct the issue. However, only a knowledgeable arborist should do an interpretation of soil test results.
To correct any nutrient deficiencies or other tree issues, contact American Tree Experts Inc. We are a professional tree pruning and nutrient management company. Our experts will develop a customized plant healthcare program and look after your trees in the best way possible. Call us at 973-774-6091 today and get a free quote for all your tree-related needs.