Kitty O’Neil, Field Crops & Soils Specialist and Team Leader – North Country Regional Ag Team, Cornell University Cooperative Extension
Corn can exhibit interveinal chlorosis (striped leaves) as a result of several factors – nutrient deficiencies or other causes. Many times, these stripes appear during a cold, wet spring and later disappear.
Nutrient deficiencies that can cause striped leaves include sulfur, manganese, magnesium and zinc.
- Sulfur deficiency can occur on low organic matter, coarse soils receiving little or no manure or other organic inputs.
- Manganese deficiency can occur when soils are dry for extended periods or in high pH soils.
- Magnesium deficiency can occur in low pH, coarse soils or when soil K is especially high.
- Zinc deficiency can occur in high pH, coarse, low OM soils – especially in a cold, wet spring.
- Lastly, herbicide or nematode damage can cause striped leaves sometimes too.
On a typical NYS dairy farm where fields are have a reasonable pH and plenty of manure applied, early season striping in corn is usually caused by Zn deficiency caused by the cool, wet spring. Striping often goes away as the season warms up and plants grow. Tissue testing can help to diagnose a nutrient deficiency if the symptoms persist or are severe.
For a deeper dive into zinc deficiency, see the Nutrient Management Spear Program’s Fact Sheet #32.