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Crop Management Abstract - Crop Management Research

Nitrogen Fertilizer Management and Recommendations for Wheat Production in Central Mexico


This article in CM

  1. Vol. 5 No. 1
    Accepted: Mar 27, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): limon.agustin@inifap.gob.mx
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  1. Agustin Limon-Ortega * and
  2. Eduardo Villaseñor-Mira
  1. a INIFAP-CEVAMEX, AP 10, Km 17.5 Carretera Mexico-Lecheria, CP 56230, Chapingo, Mexico


The current N fertilizer recommendation for wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) production in the central highlands of Mexico is to apply 71 lb N per acre. However, this N rate appears to exceed current crop needs. Therefore, research activities in farmers’ fields to estimate the optimum N rate and timing were initiated in 1999 and continued until 2002. A field trial was conducted at eleven location-years representing the major wheat production areas of central Mexico. Four N rates were applied (0, 36, 63, and 89 lb N per acre) under three N timing strategies; basal at planting, end of tillering-early jointing, between 30 and 60 days after planting, and split (one third at planting and the remaining two thirds at the end of tillering-early jointing). To estimate the critical N fertilization rates for optimum grain yield in each environment, yield data was fitted to a linear plateau model on N fertilization rates. Results indicated that the critical N rate for optimum wheat production is lower than current N fertilizer recommendation. According to the regression model used, predicted critical N fertilization, that explained 47% of the optimum grain yield variability, ranges from 28 to 66 lb N per acre. For grain yield goals below 45 bu/acre (± 3.1 bu/acre), farmers do not have to apply N fertilizer. For grain yield goals above this threshold, farmers have to apply 2.6 lb N per acre for every additional bushel expected. Nitrogen fertilizer application at the end of tillering-early jointing (Feekes scale 6) showed a tendency to increase grain yield by means of increasing the number of spikes per unit area.

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