Plant and Soil

, Volume 54, Issue 3, pp 339–357 | Cite as

pH optima for crop growth

Results of a flowing solution culture experiment with six species
  • A. K. M. S. Islam
  • D. G. Edwards
  • C. J. Asher


Ginger, cassava, maize, wheat, french bean and tomato were grown for periods up to six weeks in continuously flowing nutrient solutions at seven constant pH values ranging from 3.3 to 8.5. All species achieved maximum or near-maximum growth in the pH range 5.5 to 6.5. However, there were substantial differences in the ability of species to grow outside this range. Ginger and cassava were the most tolerant species to low solution pH, while ginger and tomato were the only species to show no yield depression at the highest solution pH. Roots of all species at pH 3.3 and some species at pH 4.0 exhibited symptoms of hydrogen ion injury. In addition, the concentrations of magnesium in the tops of all six species, of nitrogen in the tops of tomato and cassava, and of manganese in the tops of maize at these pH values were inadequate for optimal growth. Growth depression at high solution pH was associated with iron deficiency in maize and wheat and with nitrogen and/or copper deficiency in cassava.

The relevance of the present results to crop growth under field conditions is discussed. The complex interplay of plant and soil characteristics militates against precise definition of an optimum pH range for the growth of a particular crop unless the soil is also specified.

Key Words

Calcium Cassava Chemical composition Control of solution pH Copper Flowing solution culture French bean Ginger Hydrogen ion injury Magnesium Maize Manganese Nitrogen Optimum pH range pH Plant growth Root weight ratio Tomato Wheat 


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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. K. M. S. Islam
    • 1
  • D. G. Edwards
    • 1
  • C. J. Asher
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AgricultureUniversity of QueenslandSt. LuciaAustralia

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