Improving the Quality and Profitability of Durum Wheat through Nutrient and Disease Management

Develop soil fertility (N and P) management strategies for Durum wheat, geared to maximizing production, improving grain quality, grain protein and achieving a higher grade for the grain they produce. This should increase the acceptability of our durum in world markets.


19 Apr 2002


    Optimizing yield and quality of durum wheat is key to making it a profitable crop in the semi-arid regions of western Canada. While many growers are increasing the N used on their durum crops, they often use only minimal rates of P, increasing concern that they are not making full use of the N applied. Grain protein is one of the most important factors determining durum wheat quality, and durum markets consistently demands a protein content of 13% or higher, for which industry pays a premium. Since the early 1990s, the average protein content of CWAD has been 12.5% or less, leaving a sizeable proportion of the durum crop unsuitable for the premium market. The reduction in protein content of the durum crop has been attributed to higher levels of precipitation in the Brown and Dark Brown soils zones concomitant with a decline in soil available nitrogen. In the Thin Black soil zone inadequate nitrogen supplies have affected kernel quality, becoming a major degrading factor, with the concomitant decline in returns to the farmer. Under the moister conditions experienced in the past decade, leaf spotting diseases, kernel diseases - particularly red smudge and black point- and fusarium head blight have become more prevalent. These diseases have played an important role in contributing to lower grain yields and substantial downgrading of CWAD. Research is needed to provide producers with management technologies that will permit CWAD producers to regain their share of the international market through improvement in grain quality and percent protein.

    This research will focus on nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and disease management strategies to increase the likelihood of producing high quality durum.