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Crop Science Abstract -

Contribution of Individual Culms to Yield of Salt-Stressed Wheat


This article in CS

  1. Vol. 36 No. 1, p. 142-149
    Received: July 11, 1994

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. Eugene V. Maas ,
  2. Scott M. Lesch,
  3. Leland E. Francois and
  4. Catherine M. Grieve
  1. USDA-ARS, U. S. Salinity Laboratory, 450 W. Big Springs Rd., Riverside,CA, 92507



Grain yield in wheat (Triticum aestivum L. emend. Thell.) is highly dependent upon the number of spike-bearing tillers produced by each plant. Soil salinity can greatly decrease their number and productivity. Knowing the contribution of specific tillers is essential for breeding salt-tolerant genotypes and for developing wheat growth simulation models. Our objective was to determine the effects of soil salinity on the contribution of individual culms to total grain and dry matter yields of two spring wheat cultivars, Anza and Yecora Rojo. Plants were grown in Pachappa fine sandy loam soil (mixed, thermic, Mollic Haploxeralf) in outdoor lysimeters for 2 yr. Three salinity treatments were imposed by irrigating with waters containing equal weights of NaCl and CaCl2 (electrical conductivities ≅ 1, 12, or 18 dS m-1). Despite substantial losses in the number of tillers at moderate levels of salt stress, grain yields of the main stem (MS) and tillers Tl and T2 were as great or greater than those on nonstressed plants of both cultivars. The contribution of the MS to yield on a land area basis increased from about 25 to 35% in nonsaline treatments to over 80% with increasing salinity. The contribution of primary tillers ( ≅ 58-65% in nonsaline conditions) decreased substantially only at the highest salinity levels. Salinity stress significantly decreased the number of spikelets per spike but the number of kernels per spike either increased or was unaffected except at the highest level of stress. Increasing salinity decreased total straw yields primarily because of fewer tillers, but dry weights of the MSs and remaining tillers were also smaller. Results show that loss of spike-bearing tillers accounts for most of the yield reduction in salt-stressed wheat.

Contribution from the U. S. Salinity Laboratory, USDA-ARS, Riverside, CA.

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