Economically Optimal Wheat Yield, Protein and Nitrogen Use Component Responses to Varying N Supply and Genotype

William L. Pan, Kimberlee K. Kidwell, Vicki A. McCracken, Ronald P. Bolton, Monica Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Improvements in market value of hard red spring wheat (HRS, Triticum aestivum L.) are linked to breeding efforts to increase grain protein concentration (GPC). Numerous studies have been conducted on the identification, isolation of a chromosome region (Gpc-B1) of Wild emmer wheat (Triticum turgidum spp. dicoccoides) and its introgression into commercial hard wheat to GPC. Yet there has been limited research published on the comparative responsiveness of these altered lines and their parents to varied N supply. There is increased awareness that wheat genetic improvements must be assessed over a range of environmental and agronomic management conditions to assess stability. We report herein on economically optimal yield, protein and nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) component responses of two Pacific Northwestern USA cultivars, Tara and Scarlet compared to backcrossed derived near isolines with or without the Gpc-B1 allele. A field experiment with 5 N rates as whole plots and 8 genotypes as subplots was conducted over two years under semi-arid, dryland conditions. One goal was to evaluate the efficacy of the Gpc-B1 allele under a range of low to high N supply. Across all genotypes, grain yield responses to N supply followed the classic Mitscherlich response model, whereas GPC followed inverse quadratic or linear responses. The Gpc-B1 introgression had no major impact on grain protein, but grain N and total above ground crop N yields demonstrated quadratic responses to total N supply. Generally, higher maximum grain yields and steeper rise to the maxima (Mitscherlich c values) were obtained in the first site-year. Tara required less N supply to achieve GPC goals than Scarlet in both site-years. Genotypes with Gpc-B1 produced comparable or slightly lower Mitscherlich A values than unmodified genotypes, but displayed similar Mitscherlich c values. Target GPC goals were not achieved at economic optimal yields based on set wheat pricing. Economic optimization of N inputs to achieve protein goals showed positive revenue from additional N inputs for most genotypes. While N uptake efficiency did not drop below 0.40, N fertilizer-induced increases in grain N harvest correlated well with unused post-harvest soil N that is potentially susceptible to environmental loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1790
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
StatePublished - Feb 25 2020


  • Gpc-B1
  • Mitscherlich
  • economics
  • fertilizer
  • nitrogen use efficiency
  • protein
  • wheat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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