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Recipe: Dash of N boosts wheat protein

Dave Franzen, a soil fertility specialist, offers a recipe for enhancing wheat protein levels with post-anthesis UAN applications.

Recipe: Dash of N boosts wheat protein

Dave Franzen, a soil fertility specialist, offers a recipe for enhancing wheat protein levels with post-anthesis UAN applications.

Franzen, with North Dakota State University Extension, says to wait until the wheat is nearly done flowering (some secondary or tertiary tillers may have some anthers, but the main stems and first tillers are completely done flowering).

If the wheat berries have clear liquid in them, the timing is good. If the wheat berries start to turn milky, it is too late for enough benefit to be economic.

Key Points

You can increase wheat protein with an N application.

Clear liquid in berries is a good indicator of proper time.

Apply 10 gallons of 28-0-0 with 10 gallons of water per acre.

Apply 10 gallons each of water and UAN (28-0-0) during the cool of the day (early morning or late evening — later if plants are wilted from the heat of the day).

Broadcast-spray with flat fan nozzles aimed directly over the plants. This application nearly always results in at least a half percentage point protein increase. This is real wheat protein, not absorbed ammonia that skews analyzer results.

Do not apply low rates of slow-release N products to try to achieve similar results, Franzen advises.

These products are only effective if used at similar N rates to UAN (10 gallons per acre of UAN contains 30 pounds of N per acre). Growers will find that if used at similar N rates, the costs for using slow-release N products are prohibitive.

Some leaf burn should be expected. This burn is superficial and has not resulted in yield decreases in recent studies at NDSU.

Research on enhanced protein for wheat from postemergence sprays has been conducted since the 1950s. This recipe is based on it and more recent work by Blaine Schatz and Greg Endres at the NDSU Carrington Research Education Center.

Source: NDSU Crop and Pest Report, July 2011

N enchancement or fraud?

The time window for post-anthesis nitrogen application to enhance protein in wheat is immediately after flowering until the wheat berries begin to turn milky, says soil fertility specialist Dave Franzen. “Any application of N after this time does not contribute to wheat protein enhancement.

“However, application of N from milk stage to harvest may constitute fraud on behalf of the grower. Ammonia that clings to the wheat kernel may show up as a false positive for protein in elevator tests and result in the illusion of a higher-protein wheat than was harvested. The potential for fraud is greatest the closer the application of N is to harvest, but N can cling to the surface of a wheat kernel for some time. Do not apply any N fertilizer to wheat once the kernels begin to turn milky, except for the ammonium sulfate required to enable a preharvest glyphosate application.” — NDSU Crop Pest Report, July 2011

wheat closeup Bayer.tif

BOOSTER SHOT: A well-timed application of 28-0-0 can boost wheat protein content.

This article published in the July, 2012 edition of DAKOTA FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2012.

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