Winter Wheat & ESN

Wheat Closeup

Now is a good time to start planning for nitrogen topdressing for winter wheat. Wheat takes up around 2-2.5 pounds of nitrogen per bushel produced. Shortages in nitrogen could result in reduced tillering, reduction in head size, poor grain fill, reduced yields, and low protein content.


It’s crucial to get the nitrogen on early enough to maximize yield. Waiting until spring just prior to jointing could be too late, especially when little or no nitrogen was applied in the fall. The flexible, polymer coating of ESN protects the nitrogen from environmental losses and allows you to apply the wheat topdress up to one month earlier than normal topdress applications. See chart below.

esn wheat yields

There have been several people split applying nitrogen to get the nitrogen to the crop when it needs it. This is a good practice, but time is sometimes a limiting factor. Applying ESN early eliminates that need to split apply topdress nitrogen. See chart below.
esn wheat yields

Other nutrients to consider in a winter wheat topdress application.

CHLORIDE: Chloride is a mobile nutrient and likely to be leached in the soil by precipitation. The addition of 20 lbs/acre of potash (potash or potassium chloride is 47% Cl) is recommended for a “booster shot” for disease resistance at green up.

MANGANESE: Manganese can be held tightly by the organic matter and may not be readily available to the wheat in the early spring. By adding a soluble source of manganese to the wheat at green up will provide sufficient manganese for the wheat until the soil warms up and begins releasing manganese held by the organic matter.

COPPER: Copper is a critical nutrient for wheat development and while soil tests may not show deficiencies, there can be seasonal deficiencies created by cool, wet soil conditions.

SULFUR: Sulfur is a catalyst in chlorophyll production and is deficient in most soil tests. Most topdress applications for winter wheat include a sulfur source.

As always, base any recommendation off a proper soil test. These nutrients can be blended with ESN to help maximize wheat yield.

Nutrien has several grades of Rainbow Plant Food that provide these nutrients. To learn more, click here.

For more information on ESN and winter wheat, click here.

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