High Wheat Yield with High Protein too!

High spring wheat yields have many farmers bragging to their neighbors the past several years. Unfortunately, they are not bragging about high protein as well. The 2014 variety trials from NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center show just how high some of the yields have been the past three years. You can see the details of these variety trials at this link: http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/CarringtonREC/center-points/overview-of-crec-2014-spring-wheat-variety-performance-trials)

In short, the spring wheat variety trials averaged 91.7 bu/a and 60.5 lb/bu test weight from 48 varieties in 2014. 10 varieties yielded more than 100 bu/a and one variety has averaged 72.4 bu/a over the past three years. These yields are pretty impressive.

In these trials the 10 highest yielding varieties average 13.8% protein. While that is not high protein, it is quite a bit higher than most growers are achieving with these high yielding varieties. If you take a closer look at the nitrogen fertility of these trials, you will see that the previous crop was lentils and the soil nitrate test was 215 lb/a. with a history of manure application.

There are probably not many growers who have a Nitrogen budget of 215 lb/a N applied on top of a legume credit when growing spring wheat. Having enough N on up front without causing lodging before heading is like walking a tight rope. To avoid lodging before heading some people will hold back on the preplant N and make a topdress application. There are years this works well, but Mother nature must cooperate. For growers with large wheat acreage this can be difficult to do on all their wheat acres. Another alternative is to use some slow release N as part of the preplant N. This slow release N should become available a little later and help the crop to achieve higher protein without lodging before heading. Research has shown that a slow release N fertilizer like ESN can help to increase protein in spring wheat in years when nitrogen losses are high early in the spring due to excessive moisture.