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Growth, morphological and yield responses of irrigated wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) genotypes to water stress

Liwani, Unathi, Magwaza, Lembe S., Odindo, Alfred O., Sithole, Nkanyiso J.
Acta agriculturæ Scandinavica 2019 v.69 no.4 pp. 369-376
Triticum aestivum, aboveground biomass, farmers, filling period, flowering, genotype, grain yield, irrigation, plant height, tillering, tillers, water shortages, water stress, wheat, South Africa
Water shortages is a major constraint in wheat production in South Africa. It is important therefore to assist irrigated wheat farmers to identify water stress tolerant growth stages in irrigated wheat genotypes. This study evaluated new wheat genotypes for water stress at different growth stages. An 8 (genotypes) × 2 (water treatments) × 3 (growth stages) factorial experiment was laid out in a randomised complete block design with three replicates. The results indicated that plant height was not affected (p > .05) by water stress at tillering and grain filling. Water stress imposed at the tillering stage reduced the number of fertile tillers (p < .05) in susceptible genotypes while at the flowering and grain filling stages all genotypes were tolerant (p > .05). Aboveground biomass was only affected (p < .05) by water stress imposed at the tillering stage. Water stress reduced grain yield on the genotypes where stress was imposed at the tillering stage (p < .05); whereas when stress was imposed at flowering and grain filling the grain yield was not reduced (p > .05). This study provided evidence to suggest that most genotypes were tolerant to water stress at the flowering and grain filling stages.