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Iron deficiency (plant disorder)

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Title: Iron deficiency (plant disorder)  
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Subject: Plant nutrition, Micronutrient deficiency, List of organic gardening and farming topics, Phosphate solubilizing bacteria, Soil conditioner
Collection: Iron, Physiological Plant Disorders
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Iron deficiency (plant disorder)

Iron deficiency showing chlorotic leaves in a lemon tree. Compare yellow clorotic leaves with the green non chlorotic leaves at left of this image
Iron (Fe) deficiency

is a plant disorder also known as "lime-induced chlorosis". It can be confused with manganese deficiency. A deficiency in the soil is rare but iron can be unavailable for absorption if soil pH is not between about 5 and 6.5.[1] A common problem is excessive alkalinity of the soil (the pH is above 6.5). Also, iron deficiency can develop if the soil is too waterlogged or has been overfertilised. Elements like calcium, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, or copper can tie up iron if they are present in high amounts.[1]

Iron is needed to produce chlorophyll, hence its deficiency causes chlorosis. For example, iron is used in the active site of glutamyl-tRNA reductase, an enzyme needed for the formation of 5-Aminolevulinic acid which is a precursor of heme and chlorophyll.[2]


Symptoms include leaves turning yellow or brown in the margins between the veins which may remain green, while young leaves may appear to be bleached. Fruit would be of poor quality and quantity. Any plant may be affected, but raspberries and pears are particularly susceptible, as well as most acid-loving plants such as azaleas and camellias.


Iron deficiency can be avoided by choosing appropriate soil for the growing conditions (e.g., avoid growing acid loving plants on lime soils), or by adding well-rotted EDTA and Fe EDDHA. Iron sulphate (Iron(II)_sulfate) and iron EDTA are only useful in soil up to PH 7.1 but they can be used as a foliar spray (Foliar_feeding). Iron EDDHA is useful up to PH 9 (highly alkaline) but must be applied to the soil and in the evening to avoid photodegradation. EDTA in the soil may mobilize Lead, EDDHA does not appear to.


  1. ^ a b Schuster, James. "Focus on Plant Problems - Chlorosis". University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Retrieved 2008-12-22. 
  2. ^ A. Madan Kumar and Dieter Söll, Antisense HEMA1 RNA Expression Inhibits Heme and Chlorophyll Biosynthesis in Arabidopsis, Plant Physiol, January 2000, Vol. 122, pp. 49-56
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