Water use and water use efficiency of old and modern wheat cultivars in a Mediterranean-type environment.


Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

235 Citations (Scopus)


Water use and water use efficiency of old and modern wheat cultivars and one barley cultivar were measured in a Mediterranean environment at Merredin, W.A. Water use efficiency for grain increased substantially from old to modern cultivars, with little difference among modern cultivars. Water use efficiency for dry matter was similar between cultivars. Barley had the highest water use efficiency of both grain and dry matter. Improved water use efficiency for grain in modern cultivars was associated with faster development, earlier flowering, improved canopy structure and higher harvest index.
Modern cultivars used slightly less water than old cultivars. The pattern of water use was also different, with late-maturing old cultivars using more water in the pre- than the post-anthesis period. The ratio of pre- to post-anthesis water use was highest with the late-maturing, old cultivar Purple Straw (5.2: 1) and lowest with early-maturing, modern cultivar Gutha (3.0: 1).
Soil evaporation estimates showed that modern cultivars had lower rates of soil evaporation in the early part of the growing season. This was associated with their faster leaf area development and improved light interception. About 40°/o of the total water use was lost by soil evaporation with very little difference between wheat cultivars. Barley had 15% less soil evaporation than wheat.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-447
Number of pages17
Journal Australian Journal of Agricultural Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1990

Cite this