When grown with mixtures of nitrate-nitrogen (N03-N) and ammonium-nitrogen (NH4-N) (mixed N) spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) plants develop higher order tillers and produce more grain than when grown with only NO3. Because similar work is lacking for winter wheat, the objective of this study was to examine the effect of N form on tillering, nutrient acquisition, partitioning, and yield of winter wheat. Plants of three cultivars were grown to maturity hydroponically with nutrient solutions containing N as either all NO3, all NH4, or an equal mixture of both forms. At maturity, plants were harvested; separated into shoots, roots, and grain; and each part analyzed for dry matter and chemical composition. While the three cultivars varied in all parameters, mixed N plants always produced more tillers (by a range of 16 to 35%), accumulated more N (28 to 61%), phosphorus (P) (22 to 80%), and potassium (K) (11 to 89%) and produced more grain (33 to 60%) than those grown with either form alone. Although mixed N-induced yield increases were mainly the result of an increase in grain bearing tillers, there was cultivar specific variation in individual yield components (i.e., tiller number, kernels per tiller, and kernel weight) which responded to N form. The presence of NH4 (either alone or in the mixed N treatment), increased the concentration of reduced N in the shoots, roots, and grain of all cultivars. The effect of NH4 in either treatment on the concentrations of P and K was variable and depended on the cultivar and plant part. In most cases, partitioning of dry matter, P, and K to the root decreased when NH4 was present, while partitioning of N was relatively unaffected. Changes in partitioning between the shoot and grain were affected by N treatment, but varied according to cultivar. Based on these data, the changes in partitioning induced by NH4 and the additional macronutrient accumulation with mixed N are at least partially responsible for mixed-N-induced increases in tillering and yield of winter wheat.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agronomy and Crop Science