Nutrient Deficiencies in Wheat

Symptom Identification Key for Wheat and Other Small Grains

Use the following key to help identify nutrient disorders observed in Nebraska wheat and small grains.

Select the best descriptor for your plant symptoms. (Photos courtesy of the International Plant Nutrition Institute except as noted.) BACK to Soils page


Symptoms appear first or are more severe on older and/or fully expanded leaves. Select B1 or B2 ?

B1. Symptoms advance from leaf tip towards the base; uniform distribution with no interveinal chlorosis.  Go to D ?
B2. Symptoms begin in the leaf mid-section; generally localized but can spread over whole leaf. Go to E ?


Symptoms appear first or are more severe on younger leaves. Select C1 ?

C1. Youngest leaves are pale green, yellow or white. Go to F ?




Pale green plants with pale yellow older leaves. 

 Nitrogen deficiency

Nitrogen deficiency shown in wheat



Dark green plants, often with purple color; oldest leaves may be dark yellow to orange turning to brown.

 Phosphorus deficiency

phosporus deficiency shown in wheat



Pale green plants with a limp or wilted appearance; bright yellow chlorosis turning brown along the margins of the oldest leaves. 

 Potassium deficiency

Potassium deficiency shown in wheat



Green yellow plants with yellow interveinal chlorosis turning to brown necrosis on the middle leaves.

  Magnesium deficiency

Magnesium deficiency shown in wheat



Stunted, pale green plants with localized white to pale yellow chlorosis, turning to brown or gray necrotic lesions.

 Zinc deficiency

Zinc deficiency shown in wheat     zinc deficiency shown in wheat
click on images for a close-up view



Yellow leaves with prominently green veins 



 Iron deficiency

iron deficiency shown in wheat field

(photo courtesy of CIMMYT)



Pale yellow plants; uniformly yellow leaves without necrosis 

 Sulfur deficiency

Sulfur deficiency shown in wheat