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Agronomy Journal Abstract - Wheat

Minimizing Protein Variability in Soft Red Winter Wheat


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 98 No. 4, p. 1137-1145
    Received: Feb 9, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): randy_weisz@ncsu.edu
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  1. Dianne C. Farrera,
  2. Randy Weisz *a,
  3. Ronnie Heinigera,
  4. J. Paul Murphya and
  5. Jeffrey G. Whiteb
  1. a Dep. of Crop Science, North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC 27695-7620
    b Dep. of Soil Science, North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC 27695-7619


Grain protein content in soft red winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is highly variable across years and environments in the southeastern USA. This variability makes southeastern wheat undesirable to millers and negatively impacts its value in the export market. The objectives of this study were to determine how different N fertilizer rates and application times would affect grain protein variability and to determine if there were N fertilizer recommendations that would minimize regional protein variation. We conducted experiments in the North Carolina Piedmont, Coastal Plain, and Tidewater in 2001 and 2002. At each site–year, we used a split-plot design with three or five N fertilizer rates at growth-stage 25 (GS) (main plots), and an additional five N fertilizer rates applied at GS 30 (subplots). Analysis of variance indicated that environment contributed 68 and 90.5% of the variability in yield and test weight, respectively. Though environment contributed 23.3% of grain protein variability, the majority (51.4%) was attributed to timing and rate of N application. As grain protein levels increased at higher N rates, so did overall protein variability. Additionally, applying the majority of N fertilizer at GS 30 increased grain protein variability compared to application at GS 25. Based on these results, our recommendations to reduce grain protein variability in the southeastern USA are to: (i) reduce the range in N fertilizer rates used across the region, (ii) avoid overapplication of N beyond what is required to optimize yield and economic return, and (iii) apply spring N at GS 25.

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