Magnesium Deficiency

Class: Nutritional Disorders

Common Name

Magnesium (Mg) deficiency

In short

Magnesium is a macronutrient that is the central molecule in chlorophyll and essential for stabilization of other macromolecule such as nucleic acids. Plants absorb magnesium through their roots in the form of Mg2+. Once inside, magnesium is relatively mobile and translocates from older parts to younger parts of the plant if necessary such as with a deficiency.

Deficiency occur most frequently in acidic soils and soils containing high amounts of potassium fertilizer.


The plant will prioritize magnesium supply to young leaves; therefore, signs of deficiency first manifest in older leaves.

The main symptoms are interveinal chlorosis of older leaves, which means that the tissue between the veins turns yellow in color, while the veins remain green. Severe deficiency may cause stunting. Symptoms vary across different crops, but it is common for chlorosis to begin on the tips of older leaves and progress around the leaf margins inwards, towards the petiole.

Correction measures

Use fertilizers containing magnesium sulfate (MgSO4)

Apply dolomitic limestone, as it is a cost effective method for adding Mg. Though, this solution should be incorporated into the soil before planting.

Important notes:

Whether sprayed or incorporated into the soil, magnesium fertilizers vary greatly in their solubility in water. This affects plants ability to intake magnesium.

Keep in mind that irrigation water can contain a substantial amount of Mg2+, which is readily available to crops.

Caution and careful notice should be taken when using any plant protection products (insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides). It is the grower’s sole responsibility to keep track of the legal uses and permissions with respect to the laws in their country and destination markets. Always read the instructions written on labels, and in a case of contradiction, work in accordance to the product label. Keep in mind that information written on the label usually applies to local markets. Pest control products intended for organic farming are generally considered to be less effective in comparison to conventional products. When dealing with organic, biologic, and to some extent a small number of conventional chemical products, a complete eradication of a pest or disease will often require several iterations of a specific treatment or combination of treatments.

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