Several studies in the midwestem United States have shown that chlorophyll meter readings (Minolta SPAD 502) are useful in determining the N status of corn (Zea Mays L.), and show promise as a tool for the efficient N management of corn. Studies were conducted to evaluate the potential of the `chlorophyll meter for evaluating N deficiencies in lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.). Data for chlorophyll meter readings, midrib nitrate-N, lettuce growth rate, and marketable lettuce yield were collected in five N fertility experiments in 1993 and 1994. Chlorophyll meter readings not only varied among lettuce types (butter, cos, leaf, crisphead), but also among cultivars of the crisphead type. Chlorophyll meter readings were generally poorly correlated to midrib nitrate-N levels and marketable lettuce yield. Lettuce leaves have more color variation than corn leaves, and perhaps this variation in relation to the small sensor size on the SPAD 502 confounded readings. The observation that subtle N deficiencies in lettuce are usually manifested in growth rate reduction rather than abrupt color changes may also limit the usefulness of the chlorophyll meter for lettuce.
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