Nitrogen (N) is the most important element for banana growth. It plays a role in chlorophyll production and in the synthesis of DNA and proteins. There is a close relationship between total nitrogen uptake and total dry matter production1 .

Symptoms of N deficiency

The first symptom of N deficiency is a reduced growth rate, resulting in yield reduction.

As N is redistributed quickly from old to young leaves2 , symptoms of N deficiency are observed in leaves of all ages. The leaves turn pale green, with the midribs, petioles and leaf sheaths becoming reddish pink3 . The distance between successive leaves is reduced (rosetted appearance).

N fertilization

N deficiency canbe corrected by a variety of nitrogen fertilizers. The most common ones are urea (CO(NH2)2), ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3), ammonium sulphate ((NH4)2SO4) and potassium nitrate (KNO3).


1 Lahav, E. and Turner, D.W. 1989. Banana. Fertilising for high yield. Banana nutrition. 2., IPI Bulletin n°7. International Potash Institute, Berne (CHE). 62p.
2 van der Vorm, P.D.J. and van Diest, A. 1982. Redistribution of nutritive elements in a 'Gros Michel' banana plant. Netherland Journal of Agricultural Science 30:286-296.
3 Murray, D.B. 1959. Deficiency symptoms of the major elements in banana. Tropical Agriculture (Trinidad) 36:100-107.