Date Palm has yellow branch arms - Knowledgebase Question

Las Vegas, Ne
Question by sgarehime
June 30, 2010
My two date palms have been planted for 9 years. They are about 13' (brown truck) the branch section of the fronds is very yellow and the edges of those leaves are brown at the tips, both sides. What is the issue? The new growth is green and they still produce fruit each year.

Answer from NGA
June 30, 2010


Palms are often susceptible to salt burn. Desert soil and water both contain salts, which can accumulate in the root zone over time. This salt buildup forms where the water stops penetrating. Short periods of watering cause salts to build up in the top layers of soil and damage or kill your plant. Salt burn shows up as yellowing, browning along leaf edges, and leaf drop. Deep watering?or leaching?prevents this by flushing the salts past the root zone.

Water deeply but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry just a bit in-between. When soils are too moist, palms are unable to absorb nutrients, which can result in pale yellow fronds. Apply water two to three feet away from the palm?s trunk. It should soak two to three feet deep. The interval will depend on the season: once every seven to 10 days in summer; once every three to four weeks in winter.

Our salty soils also interfere with the absorption of nitrogen and iron. Adding a three-inch layer of organic mulch on top of the soil will slow evaporation, cool the soil and add nutrients back into the soil as it decomposes. The addition of soluble soil sulfur will help lower the pH just a bit which should help with the absorption of nutrients. Once the fronds are yellow, they won't green up again, but this should help maintain greenery in new fronds. If this doesn't work, your palms may be suffering from a lack of nitrogen, potassium, magnesium or micronutrients. Apply a fertilizer formulated for palms. Good luck!

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