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Iron Chlorosis of Trees and Shrubs

Iron deficiency chlorosis is a common problem in fruit trees and certain ornamental and shelterbelt species in western Canada. Although iron is an abundant trace element in soil, plants may have difficulty in absorbing enough in high lime or calcareous soils. Other conditions which can induce iron deficiency include high soil pH (alkalinity), excess phosphates in soil, excess moisture along with low soil temperature, and excess quantities of copper and manganese in acid soils.


The first symptom is a gradual yellowing of the tissue between the veins on younger leaves while the veins themselves tend to stay green. If unchecked this condition may advance throughout the plant causing the tips and margins of some leaves to turn brown and become dry and brittle. Often a branch of a tree or perhaps a few trees in an area may be affected. It is possible to have an affected and healthy tree of the same plant species side by side. In severe cases, entire trees can lose their leaves and die.


Because of the complex nature of iron availability, treatments are not always successful. However, there are several treatments to choose from.

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