Diagnosing spring drought in narrow-leafed lupins

Spring drought refers to plant water stress from insufficient rainfall or stored soil moisture from bud formation to maturity.

Later maturing variety is more affected
Variation due to soil variability
Wilted plants

What to look for


  • Large areas of stressed or dying plants with some better plants in water-gaining areas. Areas most affected include:
  • Low water holding soils, such as coarse sands and gravels, very shallow soil over rock or impermeable layer.
  • Heavy clays that retain moisture near the soil surface after light rainfall where it is more liable to evaporate.
  • Areas within the root zone of trees.
  • Double sown areas and more vigourous plants.


  • During the vegetative stage leaves turn dark green to purple and tend to stand upright. Older leaves turn yellow and die.
  • During flowering, flowers are aborted, pod set is significantly reduced and plants are stunted.
  • Pod length is reduced and seed development is affected, resulting in shrivelled seed, which may also remain green if the moisture stress is late.

What else could it be

Condition Similarities Differences
Diagnosing salinity in narrow-leafed lupins Reduced yield, early death. In saline areas.
Diagnosing hostile subsoil in narrow-leafed lupins Reduced yield, early death. Soil type specific, subsoils may still be moist.

How can it be monitored?

  • Unless the problem is obviously due to drought, dig a hole and examine the soil profile for:
  • Soil texture.
  • Soil pH.
  • Presence of restricting layers.
Page last updated: Thursday, 5 February 2015 - 3:15pm