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Grain weight in wheat cultivars released from 1920 to 1990 as affected by post-anthesis defoliation

  • B. C. KRUK (a1), D. F. CALDERINI (a1) and G. A. SLAFER (a1)

Abstract

Although it has been generally recognized that the difference in yield potential amongst wheat cultivars released in different eras is related to differences in their reproductive sink strength, there have been few investigations about changes in source–sink ratios as a consequence of wheat breeding. In the present study, two field experiments, in which plots were fertilized and irrigated and lodging and diseases were prevented, were carried out with seven cultivars (including a commercial hybrid) representing different periods of plant breeding in Argentina from 1920 to 1990. The cultivars were defoliated during post-anthesis to analyse the response of grain weight at particular positions within the spike (which have intrinsic differences in potential size).

Individual grain weight was virtually unaffected by defoliation in the old cultivars, but modern cultivars exhibited a significant reduction in individual grain weight for several positions within the spike, although this reduction was small (c. 15%) and many grains were unaffected. In addition, no relationship was found between individual grain weight in the controls and its reduction due to defoliation.

We concluded that if the source–sink ratio is further reduced, the grain yield of modern wheats will be simultaneously limited by the source and the sink. Future breeding should therefore attempt to improve simultaneously both sink and source strengths.

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Grain weight in wheat cultivars released from 1920 to 1990 as affected by post-anthesis defoliation

  • B. C. KRUK (a1), D. F. CALDERINI (a1) and G. A. SLAFER (a1)

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