California Crop Fertilization Guidelines

UC Davis
A collaboration between CDFA, FREP and UC Davis

Sunflower 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 uptake in irrigated sunflower in Australia. Yield in this study was about 1800 lbs/acre. The crop took up very little N prior to the 8-leaf stage, after which uptake increased steadily until flowering. After flowering N was redistributed from the vegetative parts to the developing seeds, and further N uptake was negligible [11].

Nitrogen Partitioning

Nitrogen partitioning pie chart

Nitrogen partitioning in dryland sunflower grown in South Dakota. The average yield in this study was about 1950 lbs/acre. The N harvest index depends on N availability. Under higher N fertility conditions, a higher proportion of the total N is found in the biomass and relatively less is in the seed [7].

Nitrogen Removed at Harvest

Nitrogen removed with harvested sunflower seeds. "Seeds" refers to the achenes (kernel+hull). The overall average is weighted for the number of observations in each trial. More information can be found here [4].

Location Years Removal (lbs N/ton @ 8% moisture) Source
    Mean Range  
North Dakota 1985-86 56.1 53.4 - 60.7 [3]
South Dakota 1980-81 51.7 35.9 - 60.4 [7]
Texas 1975-76 60.5 44.2 - 69.9 [6]
Minnesota 1970-71 47.5   [9]
Australia 1981-82 50.7 32.8 - 67.9 [11]
South Africa 1975-77 45.2 33 - 53.9 [2]
France 2011-12 46.2 42.1 - 50.3 [1]
Argentina 1996 61.9 57.1 - 69.5 [10]
Turkey 1998-99 56.7 54.7 - 59.9 [8]
Iran 1996-97 55.6 46.7 - 65.3 [5]
Various   56.3 55.1 - 57.6 [12]
Weighted Average   54.1 32.8 - 69.9  



  1. Andrianasolo, F.N., Champolivier, L., Debaeke, P., Maury, P., 2016. Source and sink indicators for determining nitrogen, plant density and genotype effects on oil and protein contents in sunflower achenes. Field Crops Research 192, 33-41.
  2. Blamey, F.P.C., Chapman, J., 1981. Protein, oil, and energy yields of sunflower as affected by N and P fertilization. Agronomy Journal 73, 584-587.
  3. Deibert, E.J., Utter, R.A., 1989. Sunflower growth and nutrient uptake: Response to tillage system, hybrid maturity and weed control method. Soil Science Society of America Journal 53, 133-138.
  4. Geisseler, D., 2016. Nitrogen concentrations in harvested plant parts -A literature overview. Report to the Kings River Watershed Coalition.
  5. Gholamhoseini, M., Ghalavand, A., Dolatabadian, A., Jamshidi, E., Khodaei-Joghan, A., 2013. Effects of arbuscular mycorrhizal inoculation on growth, yield, nutrient uptake and irrigation water productivity of sunflowers grown under drought stress. Agricultural Water Management 117, 106-114.
  6. Mathers, A.C., Stewart, B.A., 1982. Sunflower nutrient uptake, growth, and yield as affected by nitrogen or manure, and plant population. Agronomy Journal 74, 911-915.
  7. Narem, R.A., 1982. Nitrogen fertility requirements, dry matter production and nutrient uptake of the sunflower. MS thesis, South Dakota State University.
  8. Özer, H., Polat, T., Öztürk, E., 2004. Response of irrigated sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) hybrids to nitrogen fertilization: Growth, yield and yield components. Plant, Soil & Environment 50, 205-211.
  9. Robinson, R.G., 1973. Elemental composition and response to nitrogen of sunflower and corn. Agronomy Journal 65, 318-320.
  10. Scheiner, J.D., Gutiérrez-Boem, F.H., Lavado, R.S., 2002. Sunflower nitrogen requirement and 15N fertilizer recovery in Western Pampas, Argentina. European Journal of Agronomy 17, 73-79.
  11. Steer, B.T., Coaldrake, P.D., Pearson, C.J., Canty, C.P., 1986. Effects of nitrogen supply and population density on plant development and yield components of irrigated sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.). Field Crops Research 13, 99-115.
  12. United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. Crop Nutrient Tool.