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Nutrient deficiency identification  RSS feed

 
Posts: 372
Location: Derbyshire, UK
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How can I rescue these plants!

This is a black mulberry, 3 years old. This year has started to leaf out but all the leaves are slow to grow and yellow.



A couple of metres down the fenceline is a honeyberry, again 3 years or so old. There's two planted in the same hole to try and provide pollination, and only one is affected.


And the last one isn't a nutrient deficiency, but I just wandered if anyone knew what it was? On a redcurrant bush.


My soil is rather clayey, everything is planted in raised beds.
 
gardener
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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My first guess is that the pH is out of balance.
 
gardener
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Location: Middle Tennessee
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I concur with Joseph. I recommend getting a soil test done to establish a baseline so you know what you're dealing with. Sometimes all the nutrients are there in the soil, but if the pH is off, the nutrients start becoming less available.
 
pollinator
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If it's all yellow it's nitrogen if only the margins are yellow it's something I forgot. if it shows up in the leaves the deficiency is severe.
 
Charli Wilson
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Location: Derbyshire, UK
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Could I test the pH myself? I have aquarium test kits, mixing some soil with distilled water- would that give a vaguely useful pH reading?

I can't work out how to get soil tests done in the UK. The Royal Horticultural Society offer one, but it only covers pH, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium- I was never sure if this would be enough? There are companies that offer agricultural testing, but they don't want to deal with me and my single soil sample.
 
James Freyr
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I am unsure if adapting an aquarium pH test kit to test soil will yield accurate results. For what it's worth, might as well give it a try and see what you come up with. For example, if you did the aquarium test two or three times and it clearly came back with an alkaline value, then the pH may very well have gotten to high and needs adjustment. I wouldn't trust it to determine the difference between a pH of 6.0 and 6.3, it's my understanding that lab equipment is needed for that. There are home soil test kits on the market, I've never used one and am not sure how well they work. It may be worth the fee to have the RHS do a test so you know the pH. Like Angelika stated, yes nitrogen deficiency can cause yellowing of the leaves, so can an iron deficiency. Soil tests generally never test for nitrogen because it's mobile in the soil and its content is constantly changing as some of it can easily go back to the atmosphere, or wash away with water. If you do get the soil test done and the pH comes back somewhere in the neighborhood of 6.2-6.7 then it is likely not a pH issue and could very well be a deficiency. The microbes living in the soil could be out of balance and one way to approach this is to add some quality compost. The compost will help nurture the microbial life as it's the microbes that make nutrients available for the plants to use and the compost will add nutrients to the soil as well. Another approach if you don't have compost and like ease & convenience is to apply a fertilizer like liquid fish. I would on all accounts avoid using chemical fertilizers. They make conditions worse for your soil.

 
Charli Wilson
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Location: Derbyshire, UK
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Thanks James, I'll order a soil test and see what it comes back with- it is something I've always wanted to do.

I've had the site for 4 years now, and its had compost added every year- all my own compost- made from chicken manure (with pine shavings, from commercially-fed chickens) and things from the site- so any nutrient deficiencies would just get recycled. The compost I added this year was two year old, looked great! But I only added half an inch or so over my existing soil- so not vast quantities. I've never used chemical fertilizers on the site, and it was abandoned for several years before I moved in- so likely no chemical fertilizers for at least a decade.

I'll probably try giving those specific plants a foliar spray of seaweed fertiliser (happens to be what I've got to hand) and wait for a proper soil test to come back. Wouldn't be surprised if it is rather alkaline, old coal mining area!
 
gardener
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Location: Ohio, USA
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First, look up nutrient deficiency charts. I posted a link in another topic but am feeling too lazy to repost at the moment. Second, me being in the Midwest which is cold and wet at the moment, how's your temps and soil? Water logged ties up nitrogen and cold will slow break down of organic matter, which means your slow release nitrogen is turned off, even if you have a pile of compost sitting right there. As for pH, there's test kits at most hardware stores. Go for the chemistry set, not the meters or pills. There was a study on these and the chemistry set was the only thing reliable. I also heard you can make a pH test solution from red cabbage. Haven't tried it yet. I usually just eat my cabbages when I get the chance. Also, some plants do like to leaf out weird colors sometimes. Probably not in this case, but panic might not be necessary yet. And one more thing, contaminated soil will also cause leaf yellowing. That is all for now. Good luck!
 
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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hau Charlie, that looks a lot like you might want to use some manganese as an amendment there, about 2 Tbs. spread around the root zone and watered in should do it.

an alternative if you happen to take a multi vitamin with minerals would be to dissolve one in a half gallon of warm water and spread that around the root zone.

Redhawk
 
pollinator
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Location: Worcestershire, England
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Charli I dont think any of these are nutrient deficiencies. Because I have the same plants and although I also have clay soil too they are doing exactly the same thing at the moment. None of them were doing this time last year. I think the latest frost followed by some incredibly dry conditions have helped caused this to happen.

The red on the currant as you can see in my photo is caused by some aphids sucking the sap underneath the plant.

That being said some liquid seaweed would probably help them out, so that is what I am going to feed my plants with later.
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Charli Wilson
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Location: Derbyshire, UK
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Thanks for that Henry- has been weird weather this year hasn't it!

Red puffs on the currants are indeed aphids! I always have aphid problems on the currants- the top leaves curl up and go a funny shape, never noticed the red marks before, how fascinating!

I've spread some meal worm frass around the base of the plants (and it finally rained last night, so that would help!), and given them a seaweed foliar spray- will see how they do!

It is strange as I have two honeyberry (planted together in the same hole) and only one is affected. And I really hope I can rescue the mulberry, I like that plant!
 
Charli Wilson
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Location: Derbyshire, UK
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As an update.. I mulched around the affected plants (and most of the garden) with meal worm frass as an organic fertiliser. The mulberry responded wonderfully and it now twice the size with shiny new green leaves. The honeyberry looks better than it did too, though not quite as dramatic improvement. So I'm not sure if it was nutrients or the weather- but the plants both survive another season!

I have been looking at getting a soil test done and have found a reasonably priced place that is happy enough to deal with my one tiny analysis. The basic test is pH, P, K, Mg. Is it worth getting anything else tested? For reasonable cost I could get NO3 and EC tested (which doesn't seem that useful), and for a more exhorbitant cost I can get Ca, S, Na, Mn, Cu, Fe, Zn, Mo and B tested- whilst I can afford all of these I could afford one or two of the elements, but didn't know if any would be useful.

 
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