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leaves on my corn turning yellow

West Palm Beach, FL(Zone 10b)

...figure that's a deficiency, but magnesium, calcium, nitrogen - what?

it's been about 10 days or so since I fertilized with fish fertilizer. Was planning on fertilizing tomorrow.

I have about a dozen plants going. I know the fertilizer measurements per gallon of water, but what about how MUCH fertilizer/h20 solution do i use?

Hilliard, FL(Zone 8b)

Sounds like a nitrogen deficiency. Corn needs a lot of nitrogen. I do not know much about fish fertilizer. I fertilize my corn two times. The first time with 10-10-10 when the corn is about 6 inches tall or so, and the second time with ammonium nitrate just before it begins to tassle.

Could the weather have something to do with it as well? I don't know about down in West Palm, but here in north Florida we have been having some chilly nights, and scattered frost the other morning, and it is too cool for corn right now.

Greenfield, OH(Zone 6a)

I know this is late but treating it after it yellows is too late also. If the tips are yellow its a nitrogen deficiency, if it starts at the vein its a phosphorus deficiency

West Palm Beach, FL(Zone 10b)

okay, thanks, yardener.

i tried to do a three sisters, but it didn't take. I ended up pulling my corn and trellising the beans. the beans failed, so I tilled, added some slow-release fertilizer and fresh soil and planted some different beans. only half germinated, and though they grew to about six-eight inches, they seem to be stalling. I can fertilize with some liquid seaweed, but I'm at a loss what to do to get this going.

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7a)

My intuition is telling me that you've already poured so much nitrogen into this field, there's absolutely nothing to be gained by adding any more. That's especially the case for beans; the symbiotic bacteria on their roots is designed to produce all the nitrogen they need. Did you add any legume inoculant to the soil anywhere along the way? If not, you still can.

My intuition is also telling me you may have some sort of bacteria or fungus in that field, and that's what's causing these problems. If it's any kind of nutrient deficiency, it would surely be some combination of one or more of the micronutrients. Or considering your proximity to the ocean, it could be an excess of salt in the soil. If so, you may be shooting yourself in the foot by adding ANY fertilizer.

If it were me, I'd be on the phone to the county extension agent's office, asking a lot of questions about what kind of soil you probably have, what might be missing, what might be too much, etc. Especially salt. Along the Carolina coast, when my parents gardened there, there were some things they just couldn't grow because of the salinity of the basic soil, and some things (radishes) they said they couldn't grow because of some indigenous blight. And that's even WITH all the organic matter my dad added to the garden over a period of many years.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a) would really be helpful to tell us what kind of soil you're working with, what it's made up of, what soil amendments you've added, etc. Are you growing in raised beds? Containers? Using store-bought potting mix/soil? Florida sandy soil augmented with amendments (manure, soil conditioner, compost, etc).

Your yellowing of your (former) corn plants could most certainly have been a N deficiency but were they the lower leaves, the newer leaves, was the yellowing severe or was it mottled? As for being a phosphorus deficiency that would show purple in the leaves/stems, not yellow, so no need to think about that at this point.

As for petronius mentioning you've added enough N to your soil I seriously doubt that. If you're using fish fertilizer/emulsion it is very low in N, you just about can't use too much of it.

If you can give more info about your gardening soil/conditions I have no doubt we can give great info to make sure you are up and growing.


West Palm Beach, FL(Zone 10b)

Raised bed. Amended with composted manure and organic garden soil (it has peat in it), and I created mounds and did 'wampum' corn in a cross pattern.

corn grew to about 8 inches. it started yellowing at the top and worked its way down.

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7a)

I suppose the yellowing of the corn plants COULD have been from nitrogen deficiency, but I still doubt it. Wampum is closer to a native corn than a fancy modern hybrid. Native corns don't need nearly as much hand-holding and babying. And they don't need as much nitrogen, either. Certainly not just to get beyond 8 inches tall! With Hopi Blue or Bloody Butcher, about all you have to do is soak the seed in warm water, drop it in the ground, and just let it do its thing. Neither one is even as demanding as, say, Golden Bantam, which is also OP, and I'd imagine Wampum is about the same.

I still think it was disease, or maybe salt. Composted manure has plenty enough nitrogen for a native corn.

... And contrary to what the other guy wrote, fish emulsion is higher in nitrogen than in anything else, typically about 5-2-2. That may not seem like much compared to the synthetic 10-10-10's, but those fertilizers are designed for big farmers who don't have the time or means to try to truck around enough composted manure to fertilize 100 acres, or 1000.

It HAD to be something else.

...BTW, my previous reply had mostly to do with the beans you're growing now, not the corn. There is absolutely no way those beans need a single drop of nitrogen. They should be making their own, after all.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Mornin', Folks! Great sunshiny day here...ya gotta love it!

"And contrary to what the other guy wrote"...

Howdy, petronius, I'm "the other guy" but you should feel perfectly comfortable calling me Shoe. :>)

I agree, the yellowing corn leaves "could" have been a N deficiency. And yep, there's always the chance if could've been a disease or the like. But w/out more information it would be hard to diagnose, especially from a distance, hence my questions to SoFlaCom about the type of gardening, garden soil, etc. Thanks for replying, SoFla w/some answers...

Did you get your manure from a store, in a bag, or was it from a local horse farm or the like. Or was it horse manure to begin with, or cow manure? The reason I ask is some manures will carry over herbicides in them (especially horse).

If your manure was bagged, from a store, more often than not it is now mostly sand. If that is the case you'll be getting very little nutrition from it. Bagged manure tends to assay out anywhere from .5-.5-.5 to as little as .05-.05-.05. Again, not much nitrogen there. And with a peat based amended soil you may also have too low of a pH for the plant to utilize what plant food/fertilizer may be in your soil. Using fish emulsion will sure help but in your case a foliar feed would've been a great idea as it would bypass the root system and go directly to work on your plants through the leaf structure.

Back to your soil structure, unless there is ample microbial bacteria in your soil, usually available via organic supplements/humus/etc, it would be hard for plants to utilize any N, especially the N petronius was referring to with the beans. If it is new soil, or soil that has never grown beans before you would benefit from an inoculant for your bean growth. This supplie Rhyzobium bacterium to the soil so they can work in conjunction with the bean plants, giving the plants an ability to fix the N from the air. However, keep in mind, common beans don't tend to supply the full amount of N from the air, only soybeans, cowpeas, peanuts and the like are great nitrogen fixers.

I don't think it could be a salt problem since your soil is not indigenous UNLESS it is from a salt build-up from excessive manuring. (Is that what you were referring to, Petronius?)

Break is over, back to the greenhouse for more seed sowing.

Hoping you'll weigh in on this, Petronius. I'm sure we can get SoFla's garden fixed up and raring to go.


Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7a)

As for the salt, sort of; that business with excessive manuring leading to salt buildup isn't a matter of personal experience, but on the other hand, I mentioned that mostly because on another thread, somebody who just relocated, in a different part of Florida, was wondering what kind of challenges he was going to face in his new home. He linked a photo including in the background what sure looked like salt marsh to me.

My parents used to live right next to a salt marsh on the Carolina coast, and... yateda yateda... I already know any place within x distance of an ocean or its backwaters may have problems with salty soil.

I don't have much personal experience with that kind of environment, but I do have plenty of experience with native corn. It just isn't all that heavy a feeder. These corns are, for the most part, tough survivors.

On a different website, I did encounter mention of Stewart's Wilt, and that sounds very much like it might have been the root cause of the OP's problems. And as you mentioned, some manures are harboring herbicides from the fodder the animal ate.

To put it in Agatha Christie terms, the problem with this thread is, there are way too many suspects for just these two murders.

We're obviously in agreement that legume inoculant might help her beans. Thing is, it might instead just be a waste of money at the moment. I'm in communication with gardeners all over the world, and I keep hearing over and over again about Florida being such a cushy environment for untold numbers of plant diseases.

That's why in my last paragraph, first post, I tried to stress how important it is to get in touch with one's USDA county agent's office in difficult cases. Where somebody two or ten states away may not have a clue, at least the extension office knows all the basic ins and outs of local conditions.

This message was edited Feb 9, 2012 3:42 PM

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

"To put it in Agatha Christie terms, the problem with this thread is, there are way too many suspects for just these two murders."

Heheheh, don'tcha love those Agatha Christie stories!? After Erle Stanley Gardner (with Perry Mason character) she's one of my favorite sleuths!

Thanks, Petronius. I'm fairly familiar with NC coasts, and being born in Florida am familiar w/the soil conditions in certain parts, mostly the west coast though, not where SoFla is in West Palm (although I slept on a West Palm Beach shoreline years ago, waking up to the most beautiful sunrise!) :>)

Usually salt comes into play where there is occasional flooding or high salt spray (ocean winds, storms, hurricanes). I wonder how close SoFla lives to the beach/coast. Hmmm....

I'm right there w/you regarding contact with your local Ag office. (SoFla, it's usually free, my favorite word.) It's always a good choice, not always the final answer, but at least it gives more perspectives and avenues to consider.

Petronius, would love to hear more about some of the OP corns you've grown. I've only grown Country Gentleman, Strawberry popcorn, and Bloody Butcher. I've been hooked on the hybrid Kandy Korn for quite a number of years though, only deviating away to grow a small crop of Chires Baby Corn a couple years ago, which was fun to grow.

Shoe (off to make some grub...)

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7a)

I grew Bloody Butcher for the first time last year, but unfortunately all types of corn in last year's church garden were a bust. Couldn't make it through the brutal heat wave we had, worst in my 35 years in Albuquerque, and the people in charge of overseeing the watering weren't taking that into account.

Bloody Butcher got off to a fantastic START, though. I'm definitely looking forward to trying her again.

Hopi Blue is most people's favorite native around here. Aside from making great cornmeal, if you pick it at just the right time it makes a great tasting corn on the cob. For me, "just the right time" means after all the kernels have finished turning blue, but not dark blue yet, and still nice and soft.

I deliberately crossed Hopi Blue with Golden Bantam one year just to see what would happen. The F1 seeds came out a brilliant magenta. I should've planted them to see what I'd get, but I never did.

I've always liked the idea of trying to select an all-striped-kernels strain of native flint corn, red on white or red on yellow, but I'm starting to realize the genetics of corn are such, you pretty much need 100-200 specimens per generation to do any serious experimenting.

Meanwhile, I'm still stalking my personal holy grail, an OP yellow sweet corn with bigger and better ears than Golden Bantam and its variants. I've just found a source for a few seeds of Buhl, so I think that's going to be the next step in my grail-quest.

If I had more money to spend on seed stock, I'd be trialling at least 5 or 6 of Bill Best's collection of Appalachian heirloom pole beans. That will probably have to wait for another year.

This message was edited Feb 9, 2012 5:59 PM

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Hmmm, the Hopi Blue/G. Bantam cross sounds interesting. I grew Golden Bantam in he late '80's when I wanted an early crop but with small stalks. I understand there is a Golden Bantam Improved now, boasting bigger cobs, you might like that one.

Bill Best's farm is only a few hours from me. I'd strongly suggest you try Tobacco Worm Bean, one of my favorites. I may have to get more seed stock from him since I inadvertently sent the last of mine to England a few years ago to another seed-saver group. If I do I'll let you know, we'll share. Even though it is considered a snap bean I consider it to be an "all purpose" bean, great as a green snap bean, delicious as a fresh shell bean, and one winter I broke into my dried seed stock...great as a dry bean!

Sorry to have gone off topic, SoFla...


West Palm Beach, FL(Zone 10b)

yes, manure was 'black cow' manure from home depot. as far as root innoculant - that only goes on the beans, so how does the entire plant benefit from it once it grows?

I can get a back of chicken manure and under mix it (that's what I call it - dig a hole about six inches away and kind of 'tunnel' under where the roots eventually will be) and put some manure or other fertilizer beneath it, back fill it with dirt, and maybe that will help?

what are your thoughts?

would spot composting near everything help? ...and is there something specific I can put in that has N -ooomph to help out?


Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7a)

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

"as far as root innoculant - that only goes on the beans, so how does the entire plant benefit from it once it grows?"

Adding the Rhizobium bacteria to the beans allows the plants to benefit from the available N that will be converted from the air to a usable form, up to a particular stage of growth. It's a give and take process though with the plant feeding providing all the necessary nutrients to the bacterium/nodules on the roots and then the bacterium in return provides N in a form the plant can use (NH3). However, until the bacterium has grown to that stage the plant can always use some help (extra fert, soil amendments, compost/manure, etc).

"I can get a back of chicken manure and under mix it (that's what I call it - dig a hole about six inches away and kind of 'tunnel' under where the roots eventually will be) and put some manure or other fertilizer beneath it, back fill it with dirt, and maybe that will help?"

You'd probably be just as well off just top-dressing with the manure rather than disturb any root system at this point. If your corn plants are now completely yellowed you might want to pull a stalk up and look at the roots and look at your soil. With peat in your mix it may not be holding water and conversely it may be holding too much (peat is like that). Either would contribute to yellowing. I'd be interested in the pH of your soil also.

I think the link Petronius gave is to your local Ag office. I bet soil sampling might be free (it still is in NC) so could be worth a shot!


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