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  • Author or Editor: Christopher Parry x
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Maize (Zea mays) is increasingly grown in controlled environments to facilitate phenotypic analysis. Even with ample chelated iron (Fe), maize often develops interveinal chlorosis in soilless substrates or hydroponics because of inadequate bioavailable Fe in the plant. We hypothesized that the excessive phosphorus (P) in standard greenhouse fertigation solutions would accentuate the chlorosis. Here, we report that reducing the P concentration from 0.7 to 0.07 mmol·L−1 (22 to 2 mg·L−1) provided adequate P for rapid growth and increased chlorophyll concentration from 263 to 380 µmol·m−2. Restricted root-zones in containers require frequent watering and are often watered to excess, which flushes the root-zone with a high P solution. In a separate study, minimizing the leaching fraction increased leaf chlorophyll concentration from 123 to 508 µmol·m−2. The use of a ceramic substrate typically improves the green leaf color of maize plants. Consistent with this observation, we found no effect of high P concentration in the irrigation solution on growth or chlorophyll density in ceramic substrates because it strongly absorbs P from solution. These findings can significantly improve maize growth and nutrition in controlled environments.

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