Evaluating Methods of Screening for Pre-Harvest Sprouting in Soft Red Winter Wheat and the Effect of Delayed Harvest on Flour Properties
High pre-harvest rainfall in 2006 caused significant pre-harvest sprouting (PHS) and weathering throughout the mid-Atlantic soft red winter wheat (SRWW) (Triticum aestivum L.) growing region. Sprouting and weathering caused decreased flour quality due to lowered dough viscosity and decreased ability to withstand mixing and processing for baked goods. Due to its decreased quality, severely sprouted grain is sold for feed, at a lower price per bushel. Pre-harvest sprouting negatively affects the chain of production from the field to baking operations. The purpose of this research was to evaluate the inherent dormancy and PHS resistance, of current SRWW cultivars and to assess the relationship between falling number and flour quality after grain weathering.
Employing a weighted germination index (WGI), a large range in dormancy was observed across SRWW cultivars and seed production. Artificial weathering tests confirmed the use of WGI as a tool for screening for dormancy of SRWW cultivars. The WGI consistently identified cultivars with significantly higher or lower inherent dormancy. "Coker 9553" was highly dormant and resistant to PHS. This cultivar maintained an average falling number of 300 seconds even after receiving an average of 215 mm of rainfall, while the mean falling number for all SRWW cultivars after this amount of weathering was 131 seconds. After only moderate weathering, nine of 15 SRWW cultivars in the study exhibited severe sprouting, demonstrating the need for increased PHS resistance in SRWW wheat. Pre-harvest sprouting resistance groupings, based on average 2008 cultivar falling number were accurately predicted by WGI at both 10 (R2=0.79) and 30°C (R2=0.72) No consistent relationship was observed between head angle, glume tenacity or awn length and PHS resistance.
Water absorption, dough stability, farinograph arrival and departure times, peak, and 20-minute drop were measured from grain samples with varying degrees of weathering. All parameters were negatively affected by weathering in 2008. Flour quality parameters were more affected by genotype than falling number suggesting that falling number should not be used as the sole indicator of flour quality after grain weathering. It is clear that there are vast differences in dormancy levels and PHS resistance among SRWW cultivars and stronger dormancy and higher resistance to PHS does not automatically ensure higher quality flour.