Ten winter wheat varieties, representing a range of milling and bread-making quality were grown in a split-plot field trial with two levels of irrigation and three levels of nitrogen fertilizer. Grain yield was increased by irrigation and by fertilizer treatments. Application of 90 kg N/ha applied in granular form increased yield by 12.4 and 6.1% and grain protein by 13.0 and 33.7% for the irrigated and non-irrigated plots respectively. A further 45 kg N/ha applied as an aqueous foliar spray of urea (0.125 kg/1) at anthesis increased protein by 12.4% for the irrigated plots and by 8.8% for the non-irrigated plots with little effect on yield. The varieties differed significantly in yield and protein content, resulting in negative regressions of yield and protein content at each N treatment. The production of protein (weight N/unit area) was similar for all varieties, but flour extraction was reduced by the urea treatment. Varietal differences in flour extraction were stable and not correlated with either 1000-grain weight or test weight. Loaf volume was increased by the granular N fertilizer but not by the urea spray, despite the increase in flour protein and a decrease in flour α-amylase activity, indicating that applications of nitrogen after anthesis are likely to be later than the optimum for improving bread-making quality.
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