Crop Nutrition

Key to Nutrient Deficiencies in Wheat and Small Grains

Cristie Preston, Ph.D.

Cristie Preston

Cristie Preston, Ph.D.


Senior Agronomist

Agriculture has always been an integral part of Dr. Cristie Preston’s life. She grew up in southwest Virginia and had interest in crop and animal agriculture since an early age. Once she began college, she initially chose to study animal science but switched to soil science. Dr. Preston attributes her decision partly to an influential professor who told her, “You can’t understand animals until you understand what they eat.” She received a Bachelor of Science degree in animal science and a Master of Science degree in crop and soil environmental science from Virginia Tech. Dr. Preston holds a Ph.D. in agronomy, focusing on soil fertility from Kansas State University. While completing her advanced degrees, Dr. Preston conducted more than six years of field and lab research. Dr. Preston has experience in laboratory research measuring volatility loss from urea-based fertilizers. Her field research has focused on phosphorus availability and the interactions with tillage and placement. She also has extensive experience in working with large data sets and analysis. Her main priority is helping growers to identify yield-limiting factors and fix those issues as cost efficiently as possible.

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After a crop has emerged, the next important field activity is scouting (maybe this is third after weed control). Some nutrient deficiencies can be corrected if the issue is detected early enough in the growing season. But how, as a farmer, are you supposed to know what visual symptoms to look for?

Crop Watch at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has put together a simple Key to help farmers identify nutrient deficiency symptoms in wheat and small grains. By following these simple questions and images from the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), farmers can identify what nutrient may potentially be limiting their yield.

Check out this other eKonomics story on nutrient deficiencies symptoms.