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Northern Illinois Agriculture

University of Illinois Extension
nitrogen wheat

Nitrogen on winter wheat

Posted by Russel Higgins -

We are conceivably 75 - 85 days away from planting corn in northern Illinois (do you know what shape your planter is in?). But the return of sub-freezing temperatures and the fact that we are in the projected path of what may be our largest single snow event of the new year reminds us that winter is not quite over.

An activity that can be accomplished soon is our spring nitrogen application for winter wheat. New nitrogen recommendations for wheat from the University of Illinois more closely examine the economics of wheat yield and nitrogen price. This is similar to our corn nitrogen rate calculator which bases nitrogen applications on the economics of N rate return.

Lets work through an example using todays prices.

New crop wheat is selling for $7.00 per bushel
Urea (46-0-0) is selling for $560 per ton

Our cost per pound of N is the $560 / 2000 = 28 cents per pound of urea fertilizer
Urea is 46% nitrogen, we will divide 28 cents by .46 (percent N) and get our actual nitrogen cost of 61 cents per pound.

Here is the equation in its entirety    560/2000/.46=.61

Wheat at $7 per bushel would "buy" 11.5 pounds of N if N costs 61 cents per pound. Use the column in the table that corresponds to this value and determine the suggested N rate based on estimated soil organic matter. Spring nitrogen recommendations in Table 9.2 are based on applying no more than 30 pounds of N in the fall and on making the spring application at early green-up.

Referring to the table, we fall in the high category with the  ability to buy 11.5 pounds of nitrogen. Most northern Illinois soils fall in the medium (2 -4% OM) or high (4% + OM) categories. Our spring N recommendations for medium and high organic matter soils would be between 80-100 and 50-70 lbs respectively.

The Illinois agronomy handbook is now online and can be found here

Table 9.2, spring nitrogen recommendations for winter wheat can be found in Chapter 9.

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