• fertilizer application;
  • plant analysis;
  • SPAD readings;
  • Zea mays L.


Sulfur (S)-diagnostic tools are essential for rational use of S fertilizers. There is little information about the suitability of leaf greenness intensity to detect S deficiency in corn (Zea mays L.). This work evaluates, under controlled S-stressed conditions, (1) the performance of leaf greenness intensity as an indicator of the degree of S deficiency in corn, and (2) the advantage of the upper leaves in relation to the middle leaves for S-deficiency determination. A pot experiment using sand as growth medium was conducted in greenhouse with corn at S rates of 0, 5, 10, 20, and 40 mg kg–1 and sufficiency of other nutrients. Measurements of aboveground biomass (AB), total nitrogen (N), and S concentrations, and chlorophyll-meter readings (CMR) in upper and middle leaves, were performed at the growth stages of 6–7, 11–12, and 14–15 fully expanded leaves (V6-V7, V11-V12, and V14-V15, respectively). Sulfur application significantly increased AB, leaf S concentration, and CMR. Significantly positive relationships were obtained between leaf S concentration and CMR. A sulfur-sufficiency index (SSI) based on CMR measured in upper and middle leaves was significantly associated with AB (R2 = 0.58 and 0.62 for the middle and upper leaves, respectively). It is concluded that under sufficiency of other nutrients and high-S-stressed conditions, leaf greenness intensity could be a good indicator of corn S status, although little or no advantage was found for taking CMR from the upper leaves.