Impact of in-season split application of nitrogen on intra-panicle grain dynamics, grain quality, and vegetative indices that govern nitrogen use efficiency in sorghum

Abstract

Background: The correct rate and timing of nitrogen (N) has the potential to improve sorghum productivity through modified grain yield components and quality. The impacts of in-season split application of N have little documentation. Aim: An experiment was conducted to determine the optimum rate and timing of N to relate vegetative indices that govern nitrogen use efficiency and to maximize grain yield and quality under different soil types. Methods: Pioneer 86P20 was grown in three environments on two different soil types following a completely randomized block design with nine N application treatments. Treatments included differing N rates applied at critical developmental stages of sorghum (planting, panicle initiation, and booting), accompanied with high temporal aerial phenotyping. Results: Opportunities to increase grain protein content while using split N applications were observed, with panicle initiation identified as a critical developmental stage. In-season split application of N enhances grain yield under low soil mineral N. Split application of 31 kg N ha−1 each at the time of planting, panicle initiation, and booting emerged as optimum N treatment to increase protein content in sorghum. Vegetative indices, that is, normalized difference vegetation index and normalized difference red edge index are capable of predicting grain yield and protein content, respectively. Intra-panicle grain numbers and weights were altered significantly at different portions within panicles, with an opportunity to enhance yield potential at the bottom portion. The strong stay-green trait in this hybrid locked a large proportion of nitrogen in the leaves, which warrants the need for balancing stay-green and senescence in sorghum improvement programs. Conclusions: Findings highlight that in grain sorghum remobilization of residual leaf N into grain is a target to increase yield and grain quality. An optimized stay-green trait balanced with senescence is recommended for enhancing sorghum yield potential.

Description

© 2023 The Authors. Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science published by Wiley-VCH GmbH. cc-by-nc-nd

Keywords

grain protein, intra-panicle grain filling, nitrogen use efficiency, sorghum, source–sink dynamics

Citation

Ostmeyer, T.J., Impa, S.M., Bean, S.R., Dhillon, R., Hayes, C., Ritchie, G., Asebedo, A.R., Emendack, Y., & Jagadish, S.V.K.. 2023. Impact of in-season split application of nitrogen on intra-panicle grain dynamics, grain quality, and vegetative indices that govern nitrogen use efficiency in sorghum. Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science. https://doi.org/10.1002/jpln.202200325

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