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Hidden in the heart of each chlorophyll molecule is an atom of magnesium (Mg), making the nutrient actively involved in photosynthesis. Magnesium also aids in phosphate metabolism, plant respiration and the activation of many enzyme systems.

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Magnesium is mobile within the plant and moves easily from older to younger tissues.

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Plants require Mg to capture the sun's energy for growth and production through photosynthesis.

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When Mg deficiencies occur, the lower (older) leaves are affected first.

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The most common source of Mg is dolomitic limestone, which provides both calcium and Mg, while neutralizing soil acidity.

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Magnesium acts as a phosphorus carrier in plants, and is required for better root formation and thus for better nutrient and water efficiency in plants.

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Energy is required for proper plant growth. Wheat and other crops require magnesium to capture the sun's energy for growth and production through photosynthesis. Magnesium is an essential component of the chlorophyll molecule, with each molecule containing 6.7 percent magnesium. Chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants, is the site where photosynthesis occurs. Without chlorophyll, plants could not manufacture food, and life on Earth would cease to exist.

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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.