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SPOTTING DEFICIENCY. The durum wheat on the left is showing signs of chloride deficiency, while the wheat on the right, which received 30 millimoles of chloride, looks healthy. Symptoms of chloride deficiency vary across crop species, but Ohio State University literature notes wilting of upper plant leaves, followed by chlorosis, as identifiers. Montana State University

Chlorine Factors Significantly in Total Plant Health

Chlorine aids in photosynthesis, helps plants stay cool when moisture is abundant & curbs transpiration in drought

The micronutrient chlorine suffers from the fact that it doesn’t make up a significant portion of traditional cash crops’ total body mass, and its effects on yields are often overshadowed by nearly all other known plant nutrients

Still, while it doesn’t get much credit, chlorine is important to overall crop health through its part in energy reactions at the cellular level, aiding in the chemical breakdown of water in the presence of sunlight during photosynthesis and the activation of several enzyme systems. Chlorine, taken up by the plant as the chloride anion (Cl-) plays an active role in stomatal regulation as the plant responds osmotically to changing levels of moisture and field temperatures. Chlorine also supports the transfer of nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and potassium within a plant.

Misunderstood Micro

In many cases, excessive chlorine has been associated with salinity problems within farm fields, although scientists say it acts similarly to nitrates. Chlorine is highly mobile and leaches from the soil easily, presenting a conundrum to many because most scientific papers dealing with agricultural use of Cl- cite rainfall as one of the chief sources of chlorine in the soil. 

Globally, researchers continue to grapple with the actual mechanics of chlorine’s natural recharge in soil. They think much of it comes from rain or snowfall generated by the hydrological cycle starting with ocean water as a primary source, but definitive answers are difficult to find.

One popular study conducted by the University of Florida and Zhejiang University in China…

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Dan crummett 0618

Dan Crummett

Dan Crummett has more than 35 years in regional and national agricultural journalism including editing state farm magazines, web-based machinery reporting and has an interest in no-till and conservation tillage. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from Oklahoma State Univ.

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