Which Nutrient is Lacking? Watch Out For These Signs

Oil palms are like young children. They too need extra vitamins and supplements to keep them healthy and strong. In oil palms, added nutrients are often provided in the form of fertilizers.

There are many articles about how to detect whether you oil palms are lacking nutrients and this includes looking for overall or general symptoms.

However, apart from the macro symptoms, there are micro signs pointing to the lack of one or more specific nutrients in your oil palms. Here they are:

Nitrogen (N)

When your oil palms have Nitrogen deficiency, they will start to turn yellow or light green color. Usually this will be seen in younger palms as older adult palms rarely show signs of N deficiency. The yellowing will appear in the entire leaf and will not appear as spots or sections.

In severe cases, the midrib section will also become completely yellow and the leaves will start to curl and die, starting from the tips and the sides. Even the weeds and ferns on the trunks of oil palms can show yellowing.

Potassium (K)

When K deficiency happens, irregular spots which are yellow or orange in color will start appearing on the leaves. Usually these spots will appear on the older leaves first. When the spots are held up to the sun, they usually look transparent and allow light through.

K deficiency can also be observed in cover plants surrounding the oil palms, whereby their leaves show necrosis (black , dying areas) at the tips and edges.

K deficiency can also cause ‘white stripe’ whereby the pinnae leaves grow long and soft, with long yellow stripes running through the length of the leaves. This condition has been attributed to the lack of K, N and Boron deficiencies as well as N/K imbalance.

Phosphorus (P)

P deficiency does not show on the leaves of oil palms, only on the trunks. These types of palms will have trunks that are narrower than usual and taper off towards the top, forming a triangular outline rather than a straight and tall appearance.

Magnesium (Mg)

Mg deficiency resembles Nitrogen deficiency in that the leaves turn light green or yellow. However, in the case of Mg, only pinnae leaves exposed to the sun will turn yellow and shaded leaves will remain green. This step is essential in telling the difference. Young leaves will also typically remain green.

Boron (B)

It’s actually very easy to spot Boron deficiency in your oil palms. In almost all cases, the tip of the leaves will become hooked. This means that they will grow in the shape of a ‘Z’ with sharp angles. These leaves will also be very stiff and brittle.

Copper (Cu) and Zinc (Zn)

Both these deficiencies are pretty rare and only occur in peat soil plantations. Contrary to main element deficiencies which affect the older leaves first, this one shows itself in young leaves first. Yellowing begins at the leaf tips but the mid-rib stays green.

For Cu, white streaks and mottles also appear on the leaves which later become rusty brown and necrotic.