Oil palm

{Elaeis guineensis}

Boron Deficiency in Oil Palm

Boron is the most common nutrient deficiency in oil palms. Boron’s primary role in oil palm is to act as a key component in several vital processes such as cell division, root development, cell wall formation, sugar transport, and calcium uptake.

Adequate boron is necessary for:

  • Preventing “fishbone leaf” or “hooked leaf tip”
  • Elimination of white stripe occurrence in leaves
  • Preventing seedless fruitlet
  • Adequate fresh fruit bunch formation
  • Enhanced root growth

Boron deficiency symptoms for oil palm

Several symptoms of various leaf malformations are associated with boron deficiency. “Hook leaf” or "hooked leaf tip," which consists of a single or double hook on the pinnae, and transverse corrugations on the pinnae are usually the first symptoms to appear.

Fasciation, a flattened fan-like growth pattern, and the inability of pinnae to expand are associated with more severe boron deficiency in oil palms. The leaf tissue is fragile and the leaflets break easily, resulting in the condition known as leaflet shatter. With “blind leaf,” another symptom of boron deficiency, the pinnae develop incompletely as a tuft of bristles at the terminal end of the frond. A very severe boron deficiency results in “fishbone leaf,” identified by extremely small, thin pinnae. The breakdown of the growing point results in a dry heart rot as a final characteristic symptom.

On young seedlings, there are a few signs of boron deficiency. The dark green lamina is sprinkled with white dots and streaks, which become more pronounced on older leaves. There is a tendency for seedlings to show juvenile tendencies with the entire bifurcate leaf remaining undeveloped.

Spotting Boron Deficiency in
Oil Palm

How much boron do you need to correct boron deficiency in oil palms?

For seeding, we recommend doing a spray test on several seeds to find out the appropriate dosage of fertilizers before application on all plants in the nursery:

  • In general, 13.6 g of Solubor® (20.5% B) in 100 L of water is the recommended concentration for spraying
  • Solubor can also be mixed with insecticides or fungicides commonly used in nurseries
  • Divide into three to four applications during periods of spraying insecticides or fungicides
  • A preventative application of boron can be carried out during the fourth, eighth, and tenth months after germination
When planting, keep in mind that oil palm removes significant amounts of boron from the soil each year. Boron fertilizer dosage rates for immature and mature oil palm depend on the soils and yield goals:
  • In general, the standard application for immature palms is 50 g per palm per year of Fertibor®, increasing to 100-200 g per palm per year up to four to six years
  • Always consult your local department of agriculture to check the proper dosage of fertilizers

Recommended boron fertilizer for oil palm

  • Granubor is an ideal material for dry blends for soil application.
  • Fertibor works in direct soil applications and fertilizer mixtures.
  • Solubor allows you the most flexibility for applying boron in solution. It can be dissolved alone in water or in liquid fertilizer and/or pesticides, and then applied to the soil or directly onto the palms.
    • Boric acid is not recommended for foliar applications.*

*Rajaratnam, J. 1973. "Application, Absorption and Translocation of Boron in Oil Palm: I. Methods of Application and Types of Boron Fertilizer." Exper Ag, 9(2), 129-139.

Palm oil sustainability

Palm oil is a major product from healthy oil palm trees, and approximately 17 million tonnes of palm oil are used annually.

Rio Tinto is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a not-for-profit group tasked with developing and implementing global standards for sustainable palm oil.
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U.S. Borax Products for Oil Palm

15% Boron |  | OMRI Certified
Optimum product for suspensions

A fine crystalline borate ideal for NPK compound fertilizers and suspensions. Manufactured as free-flowing granules, Fertibor is easily handled and offers superior flow and consistency.

Learn more →

15% Boron |  | OMRI Certified
Made especially for bulk blenders

A pure, 100% water-soluble micronutrient that meets boron demand during the growing season. Made especially for bulk blenders, Granubor helps to ensure uniform distribution in nutritional blends and in the field.

Learn more →

Calculate Your ROI

Soil Application (Suggested rates of application)

  Granubor Fertibor
LBS/ACRE 6.25 - 12.5 6.25 - 12.5
KG/HA 14.0 - 35.0 14.0 - 35.0

Foliar Application (Suggested rates of application)

LBS/ACRE Not recommended
Value in Use
Current Yield (Per Acre)
Expected Sale Price

U.S. Borax, part of Rio Tinto, is a global leader in the supply and science of borates—naturally-occurring minerals containing boron and other elements. We are 1,000 people serving 650 customers with more than 1,800 delivery locations globally. We supply around 30% of the world’s need for refined borates from our world-class mine in Boron, California, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Learn more about Rio Tinto.

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