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Tiller Development in Salt-Stressed Wheat

Maas, Eugene V., Lesch, Scott M., Francois, Leland E., Grieve, Catherine M.
Crop science 1994 v.34 no.6 pp. 1594-1603
Triticum aestivum, soil salinity, tillering, abnormal development, sodium chloride, calcium chloride, electrical conductivity, plant development, flowering, crop yield, growth models, inflorescences
Wheat (L . emend Thell.) grain yields are highly dependent upon the number of spike-bearing tillers produced per plant. Salinity, drought, and other environmental stresses can greatly affect the developmeanntd v iability of tillers. Wed eterminetdh e effects of soil salinity on the occurrence and rate of tiller development and the incidence of tiller abortion in spring wheat cultivars, Anza and Yecora Rojo. Plants were grown in Pachappa fine sandy loam soil (mixed thermic, Mollic Haploxeralf)in outdoor lysimeters. Three salinity treatments were imposed by irrigating with waters containing equal weights of NaCl and CaCl2 (electrical conductivities of ≈ 1, 12, or 18 dS m). Salinity significantly decreased the number of primary and secondary tillers in both cultivars. Soil waters salinities ≥7.5 dS m (mean electrical conductivity of the soil water in the rootzone during tiller development) eliminated most of the secondary tillers and greatly reduced the number of TO, T3, and T4 tillers. However, the percentage of tillers producing spikes actually increased at up to 8 dS m. Higher salinities reduced the percentage of tillers with spikes, but not as much as the reduction in tillers. Tiller and spike production per plant decreasead bout 0.13 to 0.15 organs for each unit increase in . Of all the potential tillers these cultivars can produce, the primary tillers on Leaves 1 and 2 (i.e., T1 and T 2) were the least susceptible to salt stress, partly because they emerged before salinity builds up during the irrigation season. Adjusting planting densities to increase the number of anticipated spike-bearing culms per unit area could help to maintain yields on salt-affected soils.