Wheat School: Increasing yield and protein with dissolved urea

Can dissolved urea increase your wheat yield? If it burns the crop will it still put more bushels in the bin?

In this episode of RealAgriculture’s Wheat School we catch up with our resident agronomist Peter Johnson as he inspects a field of winter wheat that received 15 gallons per acre of dissolved urea with no additional water. In this case, the crop suffered significant leaf burn.

Johnson worked with several growers this summer to assess the yield impact of dissolved urea. The results were variable. Several growers using dissolved urea “post anthesis” had both yield and protein boosts. Yield gains were small, 3 to 4 bu/ac, but protein increases were very nice, at 0.5 to 0.75 percent. “On 100-bushel wheat, protein premiums can add up,” says Johnson.

Story continues after video.

However, not everything was positive, Johnson admits. “When we saw significant burn, we had no yield boost at all, and even a small one to two bushel per acre yield decrease.” When dissolved urea was applied at flag leaf stage to increase kernel set, significant burn occurred.

See related: Boosting protein with dissolved urea

Based on trial results, Johnson notes that temperature at application timing appears to be the biggest factor influencing the amount of burn. “When it’s really hot, the wax on the leaf offers less protection, and we get more burn.” Trials will continue in 2019. Next year, Johnson intends to work with growers to “target dissolved urea applications to low temperatures, and see if we can’t find more consistent yield increases.”

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Bernard Tobin

Bernard Tobin is Real Agriculture's Ontario Field Editor. AgBern was raised on a dairy farm near St. John's, Newfoundland. For the past two decades, he has specialized in agricultural communications. A Ryerson University journalism grad, he kicked off his career with a seven-year stint as Managing Editor and Field Editor for Farm and Country magazine. He has received six Canadian Farm Writers' Federation awards for journalism excellence. He's also worked for two of Canada's leading agricultural communications firms, providing public relations, branding and strategic marketing. Bern also works for Guelph-based Synthesis Agri-Food Network and talks the Real Dirt on Farming.


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