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Tiller Development And Yield Of Standard And Semidwarf Spring Wheat Varieties As Affected By Nitrogen Fertilizer

J. F. Power, J. Alessi

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SUMMARYThis research was conducted to determine the effects of applying N-fertilizer to standard and semidwarf spring wheat varieties on the components of grain yield, and especially on the ability of tillers to develop and produce ears under semiarid conditions. For two growing seasons at Mandan, North Dakota, tillers were identified and tagged according to the leaf axil from which they originated. The survival and development of these tillers, identified as M, T1, T2, and T3 for main stem and tillers from axils of first, second and third true leaves respectively, were observed and measured from emergence to maturity. N-fertilizer was applied at 0, 50 and 270 kg N/ha annually, representing deficient, adequate and excessive N supply.N-fertilizer application increased grain yield of both varieties, with the increase between 50 and 270 kg N/ha being significant for the standard variety only. Most of this response to N resulted from an increase in the number of ears/ha, arising from reduced mortality of tillers, particularly T2 and T3 tillers during the latter part of the season when water was limited. For a given variety, grain production by M and by T1 tillers was seldom affected by N treatment. Although data were analysed by several means, all results indicate that improved N nutrition enables the later-developing tillers to survive and produce ears more competitively. Final grain yield was closely correlated with N content of a given tiller at the tillering stage, and to dry weight of individual tillers at both tillering and heading. Order of tiller had no appreciable effect on N content of grain. The proportion of final grain yield originating from M decreased from about 60% without N to about 36% for 270 kg N/ha, primarily because of increased survival and production from T2 and T3 tillers following the application of N-fertilizer.