Nutrition of Winter Cereals

Yara’s complete guide to the nutritional requirements of Winter Wheat and Winter Barley

Nutrition of Winter Cereals Brochure

The Nutrition of Winter Cereals brochure gives further details of the nutritional requirements of both winter wheat and winter barley and also includes information on Autumn and Spring management, Environmental issues and Yara's Tools and Services for winter cereals.


Nitrogen is critical for plant growth, being responsible for protein production and is the central component of chlorophyll, the essential ingredient for photosynthesis. It is also the key to achieving high yields, and this contributes to making it one of the highest returning inputs in arable production systems. Of all the nutrients, nitrogen is required in the greatest quantity. 


Phosphate plays an important role in energy transfer within the plant and is therefore vital during the periods of rapid growth. In early growth stages it promotes root development, which is also important for efficient uptake of other nutrients. The majority of soils will have sufficient phosphate to satisfy the early demand. 


Potassium acts within the transport system of plants and has a number of important functions in plant growth including protein production and the efficiency of photosynthesis. It also affects turgor pressure in the plant helping to strengthen it, reducing lodging and making it less susceptible to disease. 


Sulphur plays an essential role in cereals as a component of proteins, therefore if deficient, protein synthesis is inhibited. As protein is located in chloroplasts, plants that are deficient in sulphur have paler leaves. Because of the central role of nitrogen and sulphur in the production of proteins there is a close relationship between the supplies of the two nutrients within the plant. High rates of nitrogen can cause deficiencies of sulphur if the supply is not sufficient and conversely, the efficiency of uptake of nitrogen is improved with an adequate supply of sulphur. 


Magnesium is a central part of the chlorophyll molecule of green plants, and as such, plays an important role in photosynthesis, however only a small proportion of the total magnesium in the plant is found here. It also plays an important role in the synthesis of proteins and in phosphate and nitrate metabolism. 


Manganese is key to establishment as it is necessary for photosynthesis and protein synthesis, aids meristem production and is an activator for many enzyme processes e.g. nitrate reductase. 


Copper is a catalyst in enzymes which convert nitrogen to protein. In cereals it is of major importance in grain production and ear development, being required for pollination. Cereal plants deficient in copper are more likely to have increased pollen sterility and reduced seed set may result from reduced pollen fertility. 


Zinc is a nutrient that is beginning to draw more attention worldwide due to its implications on human health, as well as the severe deficiencies seen in some parts of the world resulting in large reductions in cereal yields. It is required in cereals for protein synthesis and metabolism and is required for structural and functional integrity of cell membranes.

View or download the Nutrition of Winter Cereals Brochure as a PDF (3,185 KB).

BASIS Register There is a single BASIS cpd point available for reading this brochure, this can be claimed online via the BASIS website, quoting reference PN/59413/1718/g, valid until 31st May 2018.