Using a Simple Leaf Color Chart to Estimate Leaf and Canopy Chlorophyll a Content in Maize (Zea mays)

Anthony Nguy-Robertson, Yi Peng, Timothy Arkebauer, David Scoby, James Schepers, Anatoly Gitelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This study utilized a leaf color chart (LCC) to characterize the variation in leaf chlorophyll and estimate canopy chlorophyll in maize (Zea mays). The LCC consisted of four levels of greenness and was used to sort maize leaves in 2011 for three fields near Mead, Nebraska, USA. Leaf chlorophyll content for each color chart class was determined using two leaf-level sensors. The variation within each LCC class was reasonable (CV < 56%). The darkest color class predominated and indicated adequate fertilization rates using a Minolta SPAD-502 meter. Canopy chlorophyll content was estimated using destructively measured leaf area index (LAI) and the LCC. This approach was verified with a method utilizing canopy reflectance collected by both satellite imagery and a four-band radiometer. The error between the two methods was reasonable (RMSE = 0.55–0.88 g m−2; CV = 25.6–50.4%), indicating that both leaf and canopy chlorophyll can be estimated cheaply without a wet lab or field-based sensors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2734-2745
Number of pages12
JournalCommunications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 30 2015


  • Leaf area index
  • SPAD
  • remote sensing
  • stalk nitrate test
  • vegetation indices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science

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