Look at the plant on the right again (it is the same one above). It is clear that it is not growing as fast as the one on the left. Something is wrong, but what? There is no sign of nutrient deficiency, no disease or pest and they were grown under the same conditions.

This illustrates one of the main problems in diagnosing nutrient problems by visual inspection. In the vast majority of cases, nutrient deficiencies can substantially reduce production without showing any clear symptoms. This problem is referred to as "hidden hunger". (By the way, the plant on the right is deficient in potassium)

While deficiency symptoms are sometimes seen, it is often too late to correct the problem, especially with short term crops. Correctly identifying the deficiency symptoms can be difficult if multiple deficiencies occur at the same time. Visual diagnosis of crop growth, if correct can help in future management but is at best a much less efficient way of solving crop production problems.


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Using Visual Symptoms to Determine Fertilizer Needs

What is wrong with this plant?

By simply looking at it, we may say that nothing is wrong.

There is no yellowing, no abnormal growth.

If you saw this plant in the field, you may not want to apply any special treatment to it.