ISSUE 9   July 9, 2009

PROTEIN ENHANCEMENT FOR SPRING WHEAT/DURUM

It is possible that protein premiums might be higher than normal, and certainly the dockage for lower protein (less than 14%) wheat will be higher given the anticipated larger southern Great Plains crop with lower protein. There is already grower interest in enhancing protein with supplemental N.

The most proven method of enhancing protein would be the application of 10 gallon per acre 28% liquid N mixed with 10 gallon per acre of water after pollination at the watery-ripe wheat berry stage of growth. Apply the solution broadcast in the cool of the day; not at noon when temperature is above 80 degrees in sunny skies. At best there will be some leaf burn; however, by taking the above precautions the burning will be superficial and N will enter the plant and move to the developing wheat kernel. Our data comes from several years of work at Carrington, Minot and Langdon. This method consistently resulted in % protein increase with no loss in yield.

Avoid using low rates of slow-release N sources to accomplish this goal. Our work with several of these products shows that the company recommended rates (1-3 gallon per acre) are not enough to record any measurable increase in protein in wheat before or after flowering. Although the products have practical advantages of low burn and the ability to be applied with fungicide, they agronomically have little value for the purpose of increasing protein at low rates. If a grower wanted to use about 30 lb N/acre of one of these products post-anthesis, I have no doubt they would also be as effective as 28%.

Dave Franzen
Extension Soil Specialist
david.franzen@ndsu.edu


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