Achieving the required quality targets for wheat can greatly affect the value of the harvested crop. Often the quality targets depend on the end user’s required specification e.g. livestock feed, milling for bread or biscuit flour or grain distilling. The main traits to consider are grain protein, specific weight, Hagberg falling number and starch content.
Crop nutrition can have a great impact on the quality of the harvested grain and fertiliser applications should be planned to achieve the required quality targets. To achieve the highest value for the grain the grower often has to meet a combination of specifications.
Nitrogen and potassium are the most influential of the macronutrients on grain quality. Nitrogen is important for protein or starch content whilst potassium maintains the crop structure to prevent lodging that reduces Hagberg falling numbers and specific weight.
Micronutrients role in influencing grain quality
The secondary nutrients sulphur and magnesium influence grain protein and specific weight respectively, whilst the micronutrient zinc also helps nitrogen metabolism that improves grain protein concentrations.