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University of Minnesota Extension

Fertilizing sunflower in Minnesota

Quick facts

  • Sunflower is highly responsive to nitrogen (N).
  • Nitrogen rates should be adjusted for the type of sunflower grown.
  • Suggested nitrogen fertilizer rates are no longer based on yield goals minus N fertilizer credits, as recent data has not shown a link between the yield of sunflower and N fertilizer requirements.

Recommended N fertilizer rates

Recommended rates of nitrogen (N) should be based on the value of the sunflower seed in price per harvested pound and the unit price per pound of N applied.

The suggested rate of N also varies based on the type of sunflower grown.

  • Nitrogen suggestions for oilseed sunflower are given in Table SF-1.
  • Suggestions for confection sunflower production are given in Table SF-2.
  • Guidelines are based on suggestions for sunflower grown under conventional tillage for Eastern North Dakota, which has similar climate and soils as Northwest Minnesota.
  • Suggested first and second year N credits are listed in Tables SF-3 and SF-4.

The N rates suggested in Tables SF-1 and SF-2 include all known sources of N including the amount of Nitrate-N in a two-foot soil sample and any N credits from previous crops. We suggest sampling for Nitrate-N. Samples can be collected in the fall after the previous crop has been harvested.

For more specific recommendations, North Dakota State University has an interactive sunflower N calculator.

Nitrogen application rate tables


Phosphate, potash and other nutrients


Authors: Daniel E. Kaiser, Extension nutrient management specialist, and Keith Piotrowski, director of the University of Minnesota soil testing laboratory

Reviewed in 2023

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