Identifying grain quality for maximum economic returns
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Accurate and precise measurements of grain quality are required throughout the wheat production and marketing chain to insure that quality standards are maintained. One of most important uses of quality prediction tests is in the selection of high quality cultivars in plant breeding programs. Environmental factors have a large influence on grain protein concentration (PC) and there is normally a strong negative correlation between PC and cultivar grain yield potential. Because of this relationship and the large influence that flour PC has on other grain quality prediction tests, it is important that we avoid the trap of selecting and growing only cultivars with low grain yield potential in the name of maintaining grain quality standards. In the present study, spring and winter wheat cultivars representing a wide range of grain quality types and PC were grown in dryland and irrigated nitrogen fertilizer trials in western Canada to assess the effectiveness of accepted grain quality selection methods. PC was shown to have a large influence on all grain quality prediction tests considered. A nonlinear relationship between PC and Farinograph strength measurements was of special note. These studies demonstrated that, because environment has a large and variable influence on PC, it is important that cultivar selection procedures include grain quality comparisons that are made over a wide range of PC. This allows for a more accurate assessment of cultivar genetic potential and, when combined with the ability to segregate on the basis of grain PC at the time of producer delivery, provides the opportunity for much greater flexibility in cultivar release programs and improved quality control in grain handling systems.
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