A Technical Report from The Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories

Potassium deficiency is commonly observed in palm trees across landscapes in leached, sandy soils. It has been said that potassium deficiency is the most widespread of all the nutrient deficiencies in palms. In coastal regions of the southeastern United States, it is of particular concern and may result in death when severe. Potassium plays a large role in maintaining water conduction of the plant as it is involved in controlling the opening and closing of stomata. Since the stomatal opening also regulates the availability of carbon dioxide, potassium has an indirect effect on photosynthesis. Potassium is also required for translocation of carbohydrates within the plant. As a result, when plants are potassium-deficient, sugars produced by photosynthesis accumulate where they are produced, resulting in stunted growth. Cell wall integrity is also reduced with limited potassium which can cause a higher likelihood of leaf breakage.

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