Phosphorus Deficiency in Potato


Phosphorus Deficiency in Potato

Phosphorus Deficiency


In a Nutshell

    Plants grow dwarfed but still remain in an upright positionStems are thinner and leaflets tend to curl upwardsStems, petioles and the lower sides of leaves show a purple pigmentationOlder leaves turn brown and leathery, resulting in premature sheddingLateral root development is inhibited and tuber yield is reduced

Hosts: %1$s

· Potato · Sweet Potato


There are differences in susceptibility to phosphorus deficiency between different varieties. A possible indication of a mild to moderate phosphorus deficiency is that plants grow dwarfed but still remain in an extremely upright position. Stems are thinner and leaves tend to curl upwards. Foliage may be dull and darker than normal, turning bluish green. Stems and petioles show a dark green to purple discoloration. If not amended, the lower side of older leaves will also start to show a purple pigmentation, first on the tips and margins and later expanding to the rest of the lamina. Necrotic spots can appear on the leaf edges. Eventually, older leaves turn brown and leathery, resulting in premature shedding. Lateral root development is inhibited and tuber yield is reduced.


Roots absorb phosphate ions when they are dissolved in the soil water. Calcareous soils with high calcium concentrations can be poor in phosphorus. Most commonly, however, it is the availability of this nutrient that is limited because phosphorus is adhered to soil minerals and cannot be taken up by the plant. Both alkaline soils or acidic soils can show low availability. Soils with low organic matter or iron rich soils can also be problematic. Cold weather that hinders proper development and function of the roots can also lead to this disorder. Drought conditions or diseases that limit the absorption of water and nutrients by the roots can trigger deficiency symptoms. Soil moisture, in turn, increases the uptake of this nutrient and results in significant higher tuber yields.

Biological Control

Phosphorus levels in soils can be replenished by applying farmyard manure, or other materials (organic mulch, compost) or a combination thereof. The incorporation of residues to the soil after harvest can also contribute to maintaining a positive phosphorus balance in the long term and improve soil structure. The decomposition of organic matter provides a steady supply of plant-available phosphorus.

Chemical Control

Amendments are inexpensive and varied, and they can be easily applied to alleviate deficiency problems. Phosphorus is applied to plants in the form of phosphate together with nitrogen and potassium (the N-P-K trio in fertilizer products). Soil testing is recommended to determine the ratio of each of these nutrients. It varies depending on the type of soil, the plant variety in question and the concentration of nitrogen in soil. Usually, it is recommend to apply phosphorus and potassium before transplanting. Nitrogen should be applied in split applications later during vegetative growth. At the tuber initiation stage, an adequate supply of phosphorus ensures that optimum number of tubers is formed.

Preventive Measures

    Use varieties that are efficient at mining phosphorus from soilEnsure a balanced and efficient fertilization of the cropIncorporate plant residues to the soil after harvestUse an integrated approach with mineral and organic fertilizers to maintain soil nutrient balanceLime soils if necessary to reach the appropriate soil pH


Regional Weather

Get detailed forecast and actual weather data.

Plantix offers detailed weather information on the following issues:



Air Pressure


Wind speed

Plantix Community

Get in touch with experts around the world.

Post your questions

You can post your questions and pictures and get feedback from other farmers or gardeners. Plantix' experts will answer your questions related to plant diseases and pests.


Exchange with Plantix users around you, in your language and related to the crops you grow.

Global Community

Connect to farmers, gardeners, experts and interested people around the world that discuss plant diseases, remedies and best practice for sustainable farming.

AI-Driven Disease Detection

Instant diagnostics and solutions based on your picture

Image Recognition

Plantix analyzes your picture within a few seconds and gives you instant feedback on your plant problem.

Customized Management Options

On top of the detection result, Plantix offers you a detailed description of possible solutions - both biological and conventional.

Preventive measures

Plantix offers information on preventive measures to protect your crop from the next attack.