Growers of high quality wheat are being urged to consider applying a range of crop nutrients at the critical flag leaf stage, as bonuses up to £20/t are being offered for milling wheat with a protein content of 13% or more.

With wheat prices currently sitting at £200/t, FMC commercial technical manager Geoffrey Bastard explained that an extra £160/ha could be achieved, for an 8t crop of milling wheat if protein specifications are met.

"Boosting grain protein levels is all about correct nutrition," said Geoffrey.

This is especially important when growing group one milling wheats such as Crusoe, as they have greater potential to meet these specifications but are often more susceptible to diseases, which means they can benefit from extra support."

Although nitrogen is widely recognised as the key driver behind increased protein levels, other nutrients, such as magnesium and sulphur, are equally important.

'A variety of nutritional elements'

"Applying a variety of nutritional elements at T2 will be fundamental to achieving the bonuses on offer," explained Geoffrey.

"Magnesium is essential for the transport of nitrogen. If magnesium levels are low, nitrogen will remain in the leaves and stems, and won’t be transported to the grain where it’s needed to increase protein and amino acids.

"Magnesium also helps extend the grain fill period, so ensuring adequate availability in the plant sets the groundwork for optimum nitrogen use efficiency," he said.

Likewise, sulphur also plays an important role in boosting grain protein, as it aids nitrogen uptake and increases flour quality.

"This is especially important if you’re exporting your grain as flour quality is often rigorously checked via a Chopin alveograph test," Geoffrey concluded.

While magnesium is routinely applied to wheat at the flag leaf stage, sulphur should also be applied between flowering and grain milk development to achieve the highest protein content possible.