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Breeding Effects on Nitrogen Use Efficiency of Spring Cereals under Northern Conditions


This article in CS

  1. Vol. 46 No. 2, p. 561-568
    Received: May 4, 2005

    * Corresponding author(s): susanna.muurinen@mtt.fi
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  1. S. Muurinen *a,
  2. G. A. Slaferb and
  3. P. Peltonen-Sainioa
  1. a MTT Agrifood Research Finland, Plant Production Research, FIN-31600 Jokioinen, Finland
    b Research Professor of ICREA (Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avancats) at the Dep. of Crop Production and Forestry, Centre UdL-IRTA, Univ. of Lleida, Alcalde Rovira Roure 191, 25198 Lleida, Spain


Spring cultivars of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), oat (Avena sativa L.), and wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) are the most important crops in Finnish agricultural systems. The increasing need to reduce pollution from N fertilizer is concomitantly strengthening the importance of improving the understanding of nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) of these crops. The aim of this work was to study the differences in NUE, defined as the crop's ability to produce yield with one available N unit, among spring cereal cultivars, and to determine the achievements of plant breeding in NUE under northern European growing conditions. Field experiments were conducted in Finland during 2003 and 2004. Samples from matured plants of 17 to 18 cultivars of each of the three cereal species released between 1909 and 2002 were studied. There were no clear differences in NUE among modern spring cultivars. However, there were cultivar differences within species and significant NUE improvements on wheat and particularly for oat across time. There was no clear trend of NUE and year of release of cultivars in two-row spring barley, probably because breeding for malting barley involves consistent selection for low-protein cultivars. The study revealed that most breeding effects on NUE were associated with changes in nitrogen uptake efficiency (UPE).

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