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Cereal Deficiencies

Manganese is the most widespread micronutrient problem in the UK. Some 15-20% of the cropping area is treated with manganese annually. Symptoms are not often seen before the 3-leaf stage and are usually seen on the middle third of the leaf, the top remaining green even if the leaf breaks in the middle and hangs down. Effects on development may also occur leading to reduced tillering, small anthers and infertile pollen grain. Typical symptoms in wheat are rows of interveinal white streaks. Barley tends to be more susceptible than wheat. Symptoms in winter barley are similar to those in wheat. Rows of interveinal brown spots are often found in spring barley.


In cereals, deficiency causes the distinctive green/pale green mottling of the leaves. Early symptoms  include the loss of the healthy green colour between the veins. This may be followed by yellowing which starts at the leaf tips and margins and progresses inwards until the entire leaf is chlorotic. This can lead  to a  curling of the leaf margins, death of the chlorotic areas and premature defoliation.  Whilst crops develop transient magnesium deficiency symptoms in early spring they are not always followed by an effect on yield.


Maize is a particularly sensitive to zinc. Zinc deficiency has also been reported in cereals in the south east of the UK. Symptoms of zinc deficiency are very distinctive. In maize there may be a light streaking of the leaf followed by a broad whitish band. The leaf edges, midrib and tip remain green. The plants become stunted with short internodes.


Copper is relatively immobile in plant tissue so deficiency symptoms tend to appear initially in young tissues. Severely affected cereals show pale green young leaves which may become twisted and whitened. Ears may be malformed with full grains at the base, shrivelled grain in the centre and none at the tip.


Fielder (UK) Ltd