California Crop Fertilization Guidelines

UC Davis
A collaboration between CDFA, FREP and UC Davis

Prune and Plum Nitrogen Uptake and Partitioning

The Fertilization guidelines can also be found on the UC Davis Nutrient Management website .

Seasonal N Uptake

Season N Uptake Curve Graph

Nitrogen in prune trees [9]. Nitrogen uptake from soil is minimal during dormancy and low during bud swell. Nitrogen uptake is greatest during the summer and early fall [7].

Nitrogen Partitioning

Nitrogen partitioning pie chart

Nitrogen distribution in 12-year old heavily cropping prune trees. Whole trees were excavated and analyzed at prune harvest [9].

Nitrogen Removed at Harvest

Nitrogen removed with harvested prunes and plums. The values include N removed in fruits and pits. The overall average is weighted for the number of observations in each trial. More information can be found here [2].


Location Years Removal (lbs N/ton of dried fruits) Source
    Mean Range  
California   15.0 12 - 18 [3]
California 2014 11.6 8.9 - 13.8 [1]
California 1996 9.7 9 - 10.9 [4]
California 1993 13.3   [9]
Weighted Average 11.2 8.9 - 18  


Location Years Removal (lbs N/ton fresh weight) Source
    Mean Range  
California   2.84   [8]
South Africa 2001 2.77 2.4 - 3 [10]
Bulgaria 2004 2.90 2.4 - 3.3 [6]
Various   2.53   [5]
Weighted Average   2.83 2.4 - 3.3  



  1. Brown, P.H. Niederholzer, F., Sepulveda R., 2014. Development of nutrient management tools for prunes. Report submitted to the California Dried Plum Board.
  2. Geisseler, D., 2016. Nitrogen concentrations in harvested plant parts -A literature overview. Report to the Kings River Watershed Coalition.
  3. Niederholzer, F., 2014. Efficient nitrogen management in prune production. Glenn County Orchard Facts, April 2014.
  4. Southwick, S.M., Rupert, M.E., Yeager, J.T., Weis, K.G., DeJong, T., Shackel, K., Bonin, A., 1996. Nitrogen fertigation of young prune trees and effects on horticultural performance. Report submitted to the California Dried Plum Board.
  5. United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. Crop Nutrient Tool.
  6. Vitanova, I., Dimkova, S., Marinova, N., Ivanova, D., Kutinkova, H., 2010. Pomological and chemical characteristics of some Bulgarian plum cultivars. Acta Horticulturae 874, 317-320.
  7. Weinbaum, S.A., Merwin, M.L., Muraoka, T.T., 1978. Seasonal variation in nitrate uptake efficiency and distribution of absorbed nitrogen in non-bearing prune trees. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science 103, 516-519.
  8. Weinbaum, S.A., Johnson, R.S., DeJong, T.M., 1992. Causes and consequences of overfertilization in orchards. HortTechnology 2, 112-121.
  9. Weinbaum, S.A., Niederholzer, F.J.A., Ponchner, S., Rosecrance, R.C., Carlson, R.M., Whittlesey, A.C., Muraoka, T.T., 1994. Nutrient uptake by cropping and defruited field-grown 'French' prune trees. Journal of the American Society of Horticultural Science 119, 925-930.
  10. Wooldridge, J., Schutte, C., 2003. Effect of planting density on dry matter partitioning in young 'Laetitia' / 'Marianna' plum trees grown in lysimeter tanks. South African Journal of Plant and Soil 20, 6-10.