Growth, development and light interception of old and modern wheat varieties in a Mediterranean-type environment.


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A field experiment was conducted at Merrcdin in the eastern wheat belt of Western Australia, comparing 10 wheat cultivars representing old and modern wheats. The aim of the study was to identify any morphological and physiological characters associated with higher grain yield of modern wheat cultivars.
The modern cultivars reached double ridge, terminal spikclct, anthesis and maturity earlier than the old cultivars, but modern cultivars had a longer duration between double ridge and terminal spikelet stage. The number of leaves on the main stem generally decreased from old, Purple Straw (14) to modern cultivars like Kulin (8). The modern cultivars had a shorter phyllochron interval than the old cultivars. The old cultivars also produced more tillers per plant (7.3) and had a lower percentage (35%) of ear bearing tillers, as compared with 3.9 and 51% for modern cultivars.
The green area index and ground cover was higher in old than modern cultivars. However, the efficiency of conversion of photosynthetically active radiation to dry matter was slightly greater for modern cultivars. Although dry matter at final harvest was similar between cultivars, there was a trend for higher dry matter production with modern cultivars. The post-anthesis green area duration was longer with modern cultivars and grain yield increased with increase in post-anthesis green area duration.
Grain yield and HI increased consistently from old to modern cultivars. The most recent cultivar Kulin had the highest yield and second highest harvest index, which were 63% and 48% respectively higher than the oldest cultivar, Purple Straw. Increases in grain yield in the modern cultivars were associated with increased grains spikelet-I and grains ear-I . Mean grain weight showed a slight reduction with modern cultivars. The results are discussed in relation to future improvement in yield.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-487
Number of pages15
Journal Australian Journal of Agricultural Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1989

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