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There's no one way to boost hard red spring wheat proteinThere's no one way to boost hard red spring wheat protein

NDSU soil scientist's recipe calls for 30 gallons of UAN with 10 gallons of water per acre.

June 21, 2016

2 Min Read

No one knows for sure what protein premiums might be offered at harvest for the 2016 hard red spring wheat crop.

Winter wheat yields in the Southern Plains are expected to be high, which usually means lower protein levels in the north. The protein content of the hard red spring crop comes into play, too, though. If the protein content is lower than average, a higher dockage for lower than 14% protein will be imposed, and a greater premium for higher protein will be offered.


“If you want to try to increase protein, the most efficient way to accomplish this is to apply 30 pounds of nitrogen per acre (10 gallons of UAN + 10 gallons of water) immediately post-anthesis, before the wheat berry starts to become milky,” writes Dave Franzen, North Dakota State University Extension soils and fertility specialist, in the latest North Dakota Crop and Pest Report.

Apply the N with flat-fan nozzles broadcast over the plants during the cool of the day, usually from just before daybreak until it becomes hot, he advises. If the day is cloudy, and temperatures are in the 50s and 60s (degrees F), the sprayer could likely run all day.

“Expect some leaf burning — but at this growth stage the burning does not contribute to yield loss, but don’t push it. Spraying all day in heat- or drought-stressed wheat when temps are 90 degrees [F] is not a wise practice,” he says.

Leaf burning can be reduced if your fertilizer supplier “melts” urea to make a urea solution.

“In most cases, low burning or no burning results from using straight urea compared to UAN. However, last year in the Bismarck, N.D., area and in Manitoba, fields were severely burned from urea solution application,” Franzen says. “This would probably be the result of biuret contamination of the urea used to make the solution.”

Biuret is a byproduct of the urea manufacturing process, when the process is poorly regulated. Although U.S. and Canadian manufacturers do a good job of keeping biuret content of urea low (less than 0.2%), the same might not be true from offshore sources, he says.

There are few laboratories in the region that test fertilizer for biuret. “One laboratory I have found can test for biuret at $45 per sample,” Franzen says. The turnaround time for this test is three to five business days.

For more information, contact Midwest Laboratories, 13611 B St., Omaha, NE 68144, phone 402-334-7770.

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