The deficiency of zinc (Zn) and iron (Fe) is a global issue causing not only considerable yield losses of food crops but also serious health problems. We have analysed Zn and Fe concentrations in the grains of two bread wheat cultivars along native gradient of micronutrient availability throughout Serbia. Although only 13% of the soil samples were Zn deficient and none was Fe deficient, the levels of these micronutrients in grain were rather low (median values of 21 mg kg(-1) for Zn and 36 mg kg(-1) for Fe), and even less adequate in white flour. Moreover, excessive P fertilization of calcareous soils in the major wheat growing areas strongly correlated with lower grain concentration of Zn. Our results imply that a latent Zn deficiency in wheat grain poses a high risk for grain quality relevant to human health in Serbia, where wheat bread is a staple food.
Keywords: Iron; Phosphorus fertilization; Soil availability; Wheat grain; Zinc.
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