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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Environment and Genotype Influence on Grain Protein Concentration of Wheat and Rye


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 82 No. 4, p. 655-664
    Received: July 26, 1989

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. D. B. Fowler ,
  2. J. Brydon,
  3. B. A. Darroch,
  4. M. H. Entz and
  5. A. M. Johnston
  1. Crop Development Centre, Univ. of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7N 0W0, Canada



Protein is a primary quality component of cereal grains. Protein concentration is influenced by both environmental and genotypic factors that are difficult to separate. In the present study, a series of cultivar and agronomic trials were conducted on several Saskatchewan soil types with the objective of characterizing the influence of genotype and environment on wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and rye (Secale cereale L.) grain protein concentration and N use efficiency (NUE) for grain protein production. Minimum protein concentration of 95.4 g protein kg−1 dry grain was expressed when cultivars were produced under high productivity conditions on soils with low total plant available N. Minimum protein concentration was maintained until N was no longer the factor most limiting grain yield. At this point, the protein concentration-N response curve of a cultivar entered an increased phase. Any environmental (e.g., water or time of N availability) or genotypic factor that increased yield potential also increased the amount of N required to initiate the increase phase of the grain protein concentration N-response curve. Asymptotic maximum protein concentration was determined by both environmental and genotypic factor. Maximum protein concentration at high levels of N varied from 130 to 231 and 107 to 177 g protein kg−1 dry grain for winter wheat and rye, respectively. At low levels of total available N, the NUE for grain protein production approached 80%. The NUE for grain protein production dropped off rapidly for subsequent increments of N fertilizer, approaching zero for maximum grain yield and reaching zero when maximum grain protein yield was achieved. The end of the increase phase of the protein concentration-N response curve occurred at approximately the same available N level as maximum grain yield. These observations indicate that management systems designed for the production of cereals with high grain protein concentrations will have a very low NUE for grain and grain protein production.

Supported in part by a grant from the New Crop Development Fund of Agric. Canada and in part by a grant from the Canada-Saskatchewan Econ. Regional Develop. Agreement.

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