NC State Extension Publications

Problem

Nutritional disorder – Copper Deficiency

Symptoms

Copper (Cu) deficiency is extremely rare, consequently it is not normally seen in field conditions. To help with the diagnosis and treatment of Cu deficiency, we induced Cu stress under controlled greenhouse studies.

In NC State University trials, symptoms first developed in the middle part of the plant. The middle region of the leaf developed brown veins, which quickly turned black (Figure 1, Figure 2, Figure 3, Figure 4). The tissue surrounding the veins became chlorotic. Symptoms progress up the plant to the younger leaves.

(Descriptions based on the book, Hunger Signs of Crops, 3rd Edition, edited by H.B. Sprague.) Under controlled greenhouse conditions, tobacco plants are stunted when Cu is limited. The upper foliage of the plant may also have a wilted appearance. The upper part of the plant lacks rigidity and when flowering the stalk will bend over. In ornamental tobacco (Nicotiana alata), the initial symptoms were an overall yellowing of the foliage in conjunction with overall dwarfing. Advanced symptoms can be seen in Figures 5 and 6.

nitial symptoms of copper deficiency with the brown veins.

Figure 1. Initial symptoms of copper deficiency with the brown veins.

©2017 Forensic Floriculture

Figure 2. As symptoms progress, the veins turn black.

Figure 2. As symptoms progress, the veins turn black.

©2017 Forensic Floriculture

Figure 3. The black tissue expands with Cu deficiency.

Figure 3. The black tissue expands with Cu deficiency.

©2017 Forensic Floriculture

Figure 4. Chlorotic areas develop around the black veins.

Figure 4. Chlorotic areas develop around the black veins.

©2017 Forensic Floriculture

Figure 5. Advanced Cu deficiency.

Figure 5. Advanced Cu deficiency.

©2017 Forensic Floriculture

Figure 6. Advanced Cu deficiency.

Figure 6. Advanced Cu deficiency.

©2017 Forensic Floriculture

Similar Problems

None reported

Additional Information

Copper is required is very low concentrations, so deficiencies under field conditions is unlikely. If you suspect a Cu deficiency take a sample for analysis.

Diagnostic Tips

The sufficiency range for Cu is between 5 and 10 ppm for burley tobacco. A slight refinement of the range is available for flue cured tobacco, with 5 to 10 ppm Cu being recommended from planting until maturity, and a lower range of 4 to 10 ppm recommended at harvest for the middle leaves or 3 to 10 ppm for the lower leaves.

Corrective Measures

Provide Cu with your fertilization program.

Management

Provide Cu with your fertilization program.

Useful Resources

Links to Flue-Cured Tobacco Information and Burley and Dark Tobacco Production Guides

Tobacco Growers Information

Key Contact

Dr. Matthew Vann
Assistant Professor & Tobacco Extension Specialist Crop Science
matthew_vann@ncsu.edu

Funding Source

Funding was provided in part by the North Carolina Tobacco Foundation.

Project Team

Josh Henry (NC State M.S. student in Horticultural Science), Paul Cockson (NC State B.S. student in Agroecology), Ingram McCall (Research Technician in Horticultural Science), Rhonda Conlon (Extension IT at NC State), Matthew Vann (Tobacco Extension Specialist, Dept. of Crop and Soil Sciences), and Brian Whipker (Professor of Floriculture and Plant Nutrition in Horticultural Science).

Authors:

Assistant Professor & Tobacco Extension Specialist
Crop and Soil Sciences
Graduate Student
Horticultural Science
Undergraduate Researcher
Horticultural Science
Professor: Commercial Floriculture Production
Horticultural Science

Publication date: Jan. 1, 2017

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