Crop Talk – Protein in wheat

It is pretty well-known that the protein in the dryland wheat this summer hasn’t been that great. We have had numerous discussions amongst ourselves about it and I thought it might be a good topic this week to discuss.

wheat

I think the low protein comes down to about 3  factors:

  1. Fertility – Nitrogen and sulfur are the most important factors in protein content. It really isn’t enough to just apply nitrogen to achieve a certain yield goal. We should be factoring in our desired protein content. But if the plant can’t utilize the nitrogen, what is the point? That is where sulfur comes in. Without adequate sulfur, plants can’t use nitrogen efficiently. Every application of nitrogen should contain some sulfur.
  2. Stripe Rust – This summer we had the worst outbreak of stripe rust that we have seen in a very long time. While we typically associate rust with yield loss, I don’t think we can ignore it as a possible factor. Any stress put on the plant will adversely affect performance, so why should protein content be any different? It is no coincidence that the irrigated wheat is testing higher for protein. The majority were sprayed with a fungicide at the first sign of rust.
  3. Freeze damage – It is hard for me to point at this one as a definite factor. The primary reason is there were many fields that never had any signs of damage, yet the protein content has been consistently poor on the dryland acres. However, like stripe rust, it can’t be ignored as a potential factor.

Instead of focusing on just one, I would say it was likely a combination of two or three of the above factors.

If you would like to discuss plans for next year, be sure to contact your local agronomist at Farmer’s Coop.

Make it a great week!

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