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Potassium Deficiency in Soybeans

July 14, 2009

The other day I was out in a soybean field and noticed that some of the beans were showing potassium (K) deficiency. The percent of the beans showing the signs were not enough to blame the deficiency on inadequate nutrients.

K deficiency in soybeans

These symptoms are  from soil and weather factors. Any stress put on the plant from the weather or poor soil conditions will limit root growth. Poor root growth will affect the amount of soil K the plant comes in contact with. It is highly likely that if normal weather and soil conditions return that the plant will grow out of the K deficiency with out yield loss.

K deficiency can be identified by yellowing or chlorosis of the lower older leaves, starting at the tips and moving down the leaf towards the base. If the plant does not grow out of the deficiency the yellowing will move up the plant, with the newest leaves always green. The reason K does not affect the newest leaves is because K is mobile in the plant. So the plant will transport the available K to the newest plants.

K is important to a plants cellular function. K aids in water relations and osmotic pressure in cells and across the membranes. Also K is involved in the synthesis and transport of photosynthates to plant reproductive and storage organs (grain, fruits, seeds, etc . . . ).

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