Authored by: Allen V. Barker , Touria E. Eaton

Handbook of Plant Nutrition

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  May  2015

Print ISBN: 9781439881972
eBook ISBN: 9781439881989
Adobe ISBN:


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Chapman (1965) reviewed the early research on the essentiality of zinc (Zn) and noted the work of pioneers in the field of basic plant nutrition and the work of investigators who studied crop nutrition. Recognition of the discovery of Zn as an essential element is credited to Sommer and Lipman (1926). The modern history of Zn as a nutrient started in 1918, in a pecan (Carya illinoinensis K. Koch) orchard in Georgia, United States (Skinner and Demaree, 1926; Storey, 2007). In this orchard, trees had increased in trunk diameter, but their tops had dieback or rosetting. Researchers and growers tried fertilizers and cover crops without success to overcome the dieback, but none of these means were successful. The common assumption among pecan growers and researchers at the time was that rosetting was due to iron deficiency (Storey, 2007). In 1932, researchers discovered that Zn and not iron was the corrective element for rosetting (Alben et al., 1932). Alben et al. (1932) used solutions of FeCl2 or FeSO4 in their treatments for rosetting and obtained conflicting results (Storey, 2007). Other treatments included injections into dormant trees, soil applications while the trees were dormant and after the foliage was well developed, and foliar applications. The only favorable results were obtained if the iron solutions were mixed in Zn-galvanized containers (Alben et al., 1932; Storey, 2007). Analysis of the successful solutions indicated that they contained Zn dissolved from the galvanized coatings of the containers. These experiments led to the use of ZnSO4 and ZnCl2 solutions to correct rosetting on trees in alkaline or acid soils (Storey, 2007). The most satisfactory results were obtained with a foliar spray of 0.18% ZnSO4 and 0.012% ZnCl2 (Alben et al., 1932).

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