Managing the Nitrogen Nutrition of Your Wheat



Sponsored content provided by ESN SmartNitrogen.

When it comes to nitrogen (N), the right amount and the right timing can make all the difference in wheat. Nitrogen stimulates tillering, head development, and protein storage in the grain. Nitrogen sufficiency at tillering is crucial because it directly influences tillering success.

Too much N early can cause excessive vegetative growth and lodging. Head size can suffer if N deficiency occurs before stem elongation. Winter wheat uses about 30-40% of its N by the five to six leaf stage, and about 60-70% from the start of stem elongation to maturity. Controlling the rate of N supply can also increase grain protein by providing greater N availability during heading. Using a product with a controlled release rate, like ESN Smart Nitrogen, can help to produce higher yields while reducing excessive growth.

Interactions of weather conditions, the timing of N demand, and the potential for N loss should be considered in determining the most appropriate ESN application for different geographies and uses. Across the US Great Plains, the potential for winter N loss is quite low. A controlled-release product, like ESN, can be applied in the fall or early spring without fear of N loss. If applying ESN in the spring, it is recommended to apply it in a blend with a soluble nitrogen source such as ammonium sulfate or urea.

In the Eastern humid regions of the US, N management presents numerous challenges. Wet weather can wreak havoc on spring applied fertilizer, leading to leaching and denitrification. For this reason, N fertilizer should be top dressed in spring in these regions. ESN can help minimize potential losses in these areas if applied properly.  ESN’s protection against N loss can even allow partial fall-N applications in some areas where low N rates in the fall are advantageous to maintain tiller health thru the winter until spring top-dress applications can be made.

Want to learn more about how ESN Smart Nitrogen can help prevent N loss in winter wheat? Visit to calculate your potential return on investment, contact a rep or brush up on the latest in nitrogen management.