Trial Report Summary

Does balanced fertility program increases yield of new Winter Wheat varieties?

Crop Type(s):
Winter Wheat

Ducks Unlimited Canada
Western Ag Lab


The purpose of this project is to compare standard fertility practices followed by producers (100% spring) with a balanced fertility program. The balanced fertility recommendation is determined by Western Ag lab based on extensive soil analysis.

Project Findings:

Results from this study indicate that balanced fertilizer management approach could be a better option than the producer’s practice of applying all nitrogen in spring. This is largely due to the fact that winter wheat requires adequate starter nitrogen during early days of establishment in fall and when it resumes development in spring. Winter wheat variety Wildfire proved to be yielding greater than Elevate and Gateway. Gateway, however, consistently had higher protein content than other two varieties. Continued field studies would be necessary to further validate these findings.


Following decades of extensive work in winter wheat production in North America, many researchers and producers have begun to implement best management practices to obtain higher grain yield and improve profitability in the crop. Management practices presently being implemented to improve winter wheat production include; increasing seeding rate, application of starter fertilizer by banding during seeding, variety selection, pest control (Anderson, 2008) and split application, during planting in fall and at tillering or stem elongation in spring (Schulz et al., 2015).

Fertility management, in particular nitrogen and phosphorus, remains the integral part of the overall management package aimed at achieving higher yields in winter wheat (Halvorson et al. 1987). Recommended fertilizer management, particularly nitrogen, differs widely in winter wheat production but the crop’s nitrogen demand is correlated to yield potential and availability of moisture in dryland productions systems (Beres et al., 2018). Compared to spring wheat, winter wheat presents more challenges in development as a result of its higher nitrogen demand during the long vegetative phase, hence the reason why it requires 25 to 50% more N than spring wheat in the Prairies (Fowler et al., 1989).
The ideal fertility management package would help counteract escalating cost of production per unit area, which is the main goal that producers aim to achieve. There is still a knowledge gap on the rates as well as timing of application of nitrogen fertilizer, particularly in Western Canada, that would result in improved yield without compromising the quality of grain and economic returns. Therefore, there is a great need to continue with research on the best management practices that can be availed to producers to improve economic returns in winter wheat production.


Entire findings are available by downloading the report PDF.

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