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Research article2009Peer reviewed

Effects of three N strategies on tillering and yield of low shoot density winter wheat

Engström, Lena; Bergkvist, Göran


Application of nitrogen (N) in early spring is often recommended for low shoot density winter wheat in northern temperate areas such as Sweden. Regional N-strategy field trials in such areas generally show no relationship between early N and grain yield but the effects on shoot numbers and other yield components are seldom investigated. This study quantified the effect of three N fertilization strategies on the number of tillers at GS30-31 and the grain yield of winter wheat with low shoot density in early spring, in order to evaluate the importance of early N application. The investigations were carried out from 1999-2002 in four annual field experiments on a clay soil in south-west Sweden using winter wheat (cvs. Kosack and Tarso) with shoot densities in early spring ranging from 360-850 shoots m-2. A positive relationship between time of first N application as number of days before GS30 and increase in number of shoots from GS20-21 to GS30-31 was observed. The relationship was strongest in experiments with the lowest shoot density in early spring (360-560 shoots m-2) and the additional increase with each day of earlier availability of N before GS30 was 11 shoots m-2. In wheat with this low shoot density in early spring, N was needed before GS30 to avoid yield reductions. Whether N was applied and available 24 or 13 days before GS30 did not affect yield, despite significantly more shoots being present at GS30-31 with earlier N application.


Early N application; Main N application; Shoot increase; Shoot survival

Published in

Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B - Soil and Plant Science
2009, Volume: 59, number: 6, pages: 536-543