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Boron Deficiency


Boron Deficiency

In a Nutshell

  • Yellowing and thickening of leaves.
  • Leaves and stem become brittle.


Symptoms are variable, depending on the crop and the growing conditions, but generally, they are visible first on new growth. The first sign is usually the discoloration and thickening of young leaves. Yellowing may be uniform, or diffusely interveinal, fading gradually with distance from the main veins. Leaves and stems near the shoot tip are brittle and break easily when bent. Leaves may become puckered (slightly raised in interveinal zones) and the tip and lateral lobes may curl down. In some cases, the leaf veins may appear thickened and raised and petioles may twist. Internodes may be shortened, producing a higher density of leaves near the apex. At greater severity, the deficiency causes necrosis of the growing points. Storage roots are often short and blunt-ended and may split as the deficiency progresses.

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Boron deficiency is usually observed in soils with a high pH because in these conditions this element is in a chemical form that is not available for the plant. Soils with low organic matter content (<1.5%) or sandy soils (prone to nutrient leaching) are also susceptible to boron deficiency. The application of boron may not correct the deficiency in those cases because it may remain unavailable for plant absorption. Symptoms on foliage might resemble those of other pathologies: false spider mite, zinc deficiency or mild iron deficiency. On storage roots, blister-like bumps and cracking can also be symptoms of root-knot nematode or rapid changes in soil moisture. Calcium deficiency may also result in the death of shoot and root tips, but young leaves below the shoot tip are not thickened and do not develop interveinal yellowing.

Organic Control

Make sure to have healthy soils with good organic matter content and a good water retention capacity by applying farm manure.

Chemical Control

- Use fertilizers containing boron (B). - Example: disodium octaborate tetrahydrate (Boron 20%) for foliar spray. - Consult your agricultural advisor to know the best product and dosage for your soil and crop. Further recommendations: - It is recommended to do a soil test before the start of the cropping season to optimize your crop production. - It is better to apply boron to the soil because foliar sprays can damage leaves on many crops.

Preventive Measures

  • Avoid soils with a high pH and are rich in clay minerals, iron or aluminum oxides.
  • Avoid high air humidity and low soil moisture.
  • Do not over-fertilize or lime the soils.
  • Avoid over-watering of the crops.
  • Have the soil tested regularly to gain a thorough understanding of the nutrient levels of your field.

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