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Variation in harvest index of modern spring barley, oat and wheat cultivars adapted to northern growing conditions

  • P. PELTONEN-SAINIO (a1), S. MUURINEN (a1), A. RAJALA (a1) and L. JAUHIAINEN (a2)


Increased harvest index (HI) has been one of the principal factors contributing to genetic yield improvements in spring barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), oat (Avena sativa L.) and wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) cultivars. Although high HI demonstrates high-yielding ability when cultivars are compared, it can also indicate challenges to yield formation when comparisons are made across differing growing conditions. The present study was designed to investigate variation in HI among modern cereal cultivars relative to that brought about by a northern environment, to assess whether HI still explains the majority of the differences in grain yield when only modern cereal cultivars are compared, and to monitor key traits contributing to HI. Stability of HI was also investigated with reference to the role of tillers. Twelve experiments (3 years, two locations, two nitrogen fertilizer regimes) were carried out in southern Finland to evaluate 12 two-row spring barley, 10 six-row barley, 10 oat and 11 wheat cultivars. In addition to HI, days to heading and maturity, length of grain filling period, grain yield, test weight and 13 traits characterizing plant stand structure were measured and analysed with principal component analysis (PCA) to detect traits associated with HI and those contributing to stability of HI. Although only modern cereals were studied, differences among cultivars were significant both in mean HI and stability of HI, and HI was associated with short plant stature in all modern cereal species. Also, single grain weight was associated with HI in all species. Differences between, but not within, species in HI were partly attributable to differences in tiller performance. Grain yield was associated closely with HI except in two-row barley. It may be possible to further increase HI of wheat, as it still was relatively low. High HI did, however, not indicate the degree of success in yield determination when environments are compared.


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Variation in harvest index of modern spring barley, oat and wheat cultivars adapted to northern growing conditions

  • P. PELTONEN-SAINIO (a1), S. MUURINEN (a1), A. RAJALA (a1) and L. JAUHIAINEN (a2)


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