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Modelling phenological and agronomic adaptation options for narrow-leafed lupins in the southern grainbelt of Western Australia

Chen, Chao, Fletcher, Andrew, Lawes, Roger, Berger, Jens, Robertson, Michael
European journal of agronomy 2017 v.89 pp. 140-147
Lupinus angustifolius, breeding, climate, crop yield, cultivars, flowering, growing season, models, phenology, production technology, rain, sandy soils, sowing date, Western Australia
Australian modern narrow-leafed lupin (Lupinus angustifolius L.) cultivars tend to flower early and are vernalisation-unresponsive (VU). Cultivars have generally been selected for the warmer climates zones and sandy soils of the northern grain belt of Western Australia (NWA), where lupins are predominantly grown. In areas where climates are cooler and growing seasons are longer and wetter, such as the southern grain belt of Western Australia (SWA), it is probable that lupin would have a higher yield potential. Given that VU cultivars would have a longer vegetative phase (i.e. late flowering) we hypothesise that they may be more productive than those that are early flowering. Here we used a modelling approach to: 1) test the hypothesis that cool-climate SWA would have higher lupin yield than warm-climate NWA; 2) explore lupin phenological adaptation and yield potential in SWA over a range of proposed VU cultivars; and 3) further evaluate the combined effects of cultivar phenology, sowing time and seasonal type on lupin yields.Simulations from the Agricultural Production Systems Simulator (APSIM) showed that, on average, lupin yield in SWA was higher than that in NWA, with 23% greater yield for the early-flowering cultivar Mandelup. Proposed cultivars flowering 22days (late-flowering) and 15days (medium flowering) later than Mandelup would have their phenology better adapted in the high and medium rainfall zones of SWA, producing 16 and 7% more grain in the two rainfall zones, respectively. The proposed late-flowering cultivar sown before the end of April achieved higher yields for all seasons in the high rainfall zone and for above average and average rainfall seasons in the medium rainfall zone. In more water-limited situations early sowing was preferable with no obvious difference in yield among cultivars. Despite this, the early-flowering cultivar yielded more when sown in late April. The results indicate that lupin production would benefit from breeding VU varieties with a long vegetative phase for the SWA that should be sown in mid to late April.