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Iron (Fe) is essential for crop growth and food production. Plants take up Fe as the ferrous (Fe2+) cation. Iron is a component of many enzymes associated with energy transfer, nitrogen reduction and fixation, and lignin formation.

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Iron deficiencies may be caused by an imbalance with other metals such as copper (Cu), manganese (Mn) and molybdenum (Mo).

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Plants deficient in Fe will often display a pale green leaf color (chlorosis), with sharp distinction between green veins and yellow interveinal tissues.

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Most Fe fertilizer sources work best applied as foliar sprays.

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Iron is a catalyst to chlorophyll formation.

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Iron acts as an oxygen carrier in the nodules of legume roots.

Dig Deeper: Fertilizer Use Guide

Iron (Fe) is essential for crop growth and food production. Plants take up Fe as the ferrous (Fe2+) cation. Iron is a component of many enzymes associated with energy transfer, nitrogen reduction and fixation, and lignin formation.

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Deficiency Symptoms

Symptoms of deficiency can vary across crop species, but similarities exist for how nutrient insufficiency impacts plant tissue color and appearance. Nutrient deficiencies are commonly associated with the physical location on the plant (i.e., whether the symptoms are primarily observed on older versus newly formed plant tissue), but these symptoms can spread as the severity of the deficiency progresses.

All photos are provided courtesy of the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) and its IPNI Crop Nutrient Deficiency Image Collection. The photos above are a sample of a greater collection, which provides a comprehensive sampling of hundreds of classic cases of crop deficiency from research plots and farm fields located around the world. For access to the full collection, you can visit IPNI's website.