Solution Center for Nutrient Management
Solution Center for Nutrient Management
Solution Center for Nutrient Management
University of California
Solution Center for Nutrient Management

Meet Crop Nutrient Requirements

What are crop nutrient requirements?

Nutrient management is critical in increasing or maintaining crop yields on a single parcel of agricultural land.  To meet crop needs throughout a growing season soil fertility must be consistently high, which can be attributed to the presence and availability of nutrients. There are fourteen nutrients that are supplied to crops from soil and fertilizer sources.  Of these, 6 are widely considered macronutrients, while the rest are micronutrients. Macronutrients are used in relatively larger amounts by the plant, however micronutrient deficiencies can be equally damaging to yield and profitability. For more information on the essential nutrients for crop growth see the Crop Nutrient Requirements Focus Topic.

Corn showing zinc deficiency symptoms
Corn showing zinc deficiency symptoms

Consider other factors

Water

Soil pH

Nutrient losses

  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Crop Nutrient Tool: this tool is useful in calculating the approximate amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium removed from the field with harvest

University of California nitrogen fertilizer guidelines for selected crops

Due to the variety of field, farm, and regional factors affecting plant nutrient requirements, it is impossible to prescribe specific and broadly applicable recommendations for fertilization rates.  The following table provides general guidelines for specific crops, developed by University of California researchers. Numbered publications can be found in the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources catalog.

Nitrogen Guidelines (lbs/acre)

Crop Minimum Maximum Source

Alfalfa

0

50

Summers and Putnam 2008 (Pub #3512)

Almond 100 200 Micke 1996 (Pub #3364)   
Avocado 67 100 Faber et al. 2011 (Pub #3436), Lovatt 2001, Wolstenholme 2004
Bean, dry 86 116 Long et al. 2010 (Pub #8402)
Broccoli 100 200 LeStrange et al. 2010 (Pub # 7211)
Carrot 100 250 Nunez et al. 2008 (Pub #7226)
Celery 200 275 Daugovish et al. 2008 (Pub #7220)
Corn 150 275  
Corn, sweet 100 200 Smith et al. 1997 (Pub #7223)
Cotton 100 200 Hake et al. 1996  (Pub #3352)
Environment horticulture     Newman  2009  (Pub #3508)  
Grape, raisin 20 60 Christensen  2000 (Pub #3393)
Lawn(Heavy soil) 174 261 Harivandi and Gibeault 1997 (Pub #7227)  
Lawn(Shade) 87 130 Harivandi and Gibeault 1996 (Pub #7214)
Lemon     Ingels et al. 1994 (Pub #21521)  
Lettuce 170 220 Turini 2011 (Pub  #7215), Smith et al. 2011c (Pub #7216)
Melon, cantaloupe 80 150 Hartz et al. 2008 (Pub #7218)
Melon, watermelon   160 Baameur et al. 2009 (Pub #7213)
Melons (mixed) 100 150 Mayberry et al. 1996  (Pub #7209)
Nectarine 100 150 Strand 1999 (Pub #3389)
Oats 50 120 Munier et al. 2006 (Pub #8167)
Onion 100 400 Smith et al. 2011b  (Pub  #7242)
Oranges     Ingels et al. 1994 (Pub #21521)  
Peach, cling 50 100 Norton et al. 2007 (Pub #8276)
Peach, free 50 100 Norton et al. 2009 (Pub #8358)
Pepper, bell 180 240 Hartz et al. 2008  (Pub #7217)
Pepper, chili 150 200 Smith et al. 2011a  (Pub #7244)
Pistachios 100 225 Beede et al. 2005
Plums, dried (prunes)   100 Norton et al. 2007 (Pub #8264)
Plums, fresh 110 150 La Rue and Johnson 1989 (Pub #3331)
Potato     Strand et al. 2006.  Pub. #3316.
Rice 110 145 Mutters and Thompson 2009  (Pub #3514)
Safflower 100 150 Kafka and Kearney 1998 (Pub #21565)
Strawberry 150 300 Strand et al. 2008  (Pub #3351)
Tomatoes, fresh market 125 350 Le Strange et al. 2000 (Pub #8017)
Tomatoes, processing 100 150 Hartz et al. 2008  (Pub #7228)
Walnuts 150 200 Anderson  2006  (Pub #21623) & Ramos 1997 (Pub. #3373)
Wheat 100 240 Munier et al. 2006 (Pub #8167)

 

The above table was adapted from the California Nitrogen Assessment (2016).

The application of any fertilizer or soil amendment should be consistent with the "4 R's" of nutrient management. The "Fertilizer Nitrogen" focus topic provides more details on proper application of soil amendments.

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