ND Wheat Grower Chuck Nelson Cracks the Code for High Yield and Protein in Hard Red Spring Wheat

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North Dakota wheat grower shows intensive management practices pay

For the past two years, I’ve been consistently achieving 100 bushels per acre with your variety Albany on my farm with 16 percent protein -- Chuck Nelson

Last December, during the annual Prairie Grains Conference in Grand Forks, ND, seedsman Chuck Nelson walked up to the Limagrain Cereal Seeds marketing booth and said something that immediately caught the attention of LCS staff.

“For the past two years, I’ve been consistently achieving 100 bushels per acre with your variety Albany on my farm with 16 percent protein,” he told them.

It’s well known that extra yield tends to dilute the level of Nitrogen (N) in the grain, leading to lower protein content percentages -- and LCS Albany is arguably the very highest yielder for the region. But according to Nelson, the secret to achieving both high yield and high protein content with LCS Albany (beyond Mother Nature providing an accommodating growing season) is to take the time to do multiple fertilizer applications.

“Seedbed fertilizer (NPK) is applied according to the nutrient status of the soil, but this is then backed up with sequential applications of Nitrogen during the season,” according to Nelson. Liquid UAN (Urea/Ammonium Nitrate) containing 28 percent Nitrogen can be applied if needed during tillering to improve yield potential, but the important final treatment is made at the flag leaf stage to boost the percentage of protein content in the grain, he continued.

“We always make split applications of fertilizer, depending on the condition of the crop and the weather, so the plants can be fed at critical growth stages - and the crop benefits from this,” he said.

Best practices, according to Nelson, call for application of 28 percent UAN towards evening, when a relatively cool following day is forecast -- this avoids leaf scorch and can make a tremendous difference in both yield and protein content.

But of course, it all starts with a good wheat variety.

“LCS Albany has consistently high yield,” he said. “We believe LCS Albany is one that’s really hard to beat. It’s a very good variety for our region, but farmers need to learn how to manage it for maximum profit.

“So, if you can imagine a variety capable of yielding up to 100 bushels per acre -- such as LCS Albany -- that can also produce 16 percent protein, then you are sharing the ambition of every Hard Red Spring Wheat grower on the planet today.”

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Group Limagrain was founded in France in 1942. The farmer-owned company has 7,000 employees and is the largest seed company in the European Union. Fort Collins, Colorado serves as the North American headquarters of Limagrain Cereal Seeds, the newest subsidiary of Group Limagrain. LCS has regional research stations in Washington, Indiana, Minnesota and Kansas. Visit http://www.LimagrainCerealSeeds.com.

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Dr. Blake Cooper
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