Monday, June 6, 2011

Temporary Sulfur Deficiencies are Possible this Spring

Lloyd W. Murdock, Extension Soils Specialist

Sulfur (S) is available to the plants in the sulfate form and it can be leached deeper into the soil with high rainfall on soils that have high amounts of sand. With the large amount of rainfall we have had this year the sulfate sulfur may have been leached from the top few inches of sandy soils. As the plant begins its early growth with shallow rooting systems ,a temporary S deficiency could be experienced in these types of soils. This deficiency should correct itself quickly as the roots reach deeper into the profile where the concentrations of S will be higher due to an increase in the clay content. The organic matter in the soil will also begin decomposition rapidly as the temperatures warms, releasing S for plant uptake. An early temporary S deficiency has never been found to be yield limiting.

Plants which experience a sulfur deficiency will have a pale light green to yellow colors in the upper most leaves; the lower leaves will look normal and darker green. If these symptoms appear, they should return to normal color as the roots expand deeper into the soil.

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