Plants (Basel). 2023 Aug 3;12(15):2858. doi: 10.3390/plants12152858.
The remarkable yield performance of super hybrid rice has played a crucial role in ensuring global food security. However, there is a scarcity of studies investigating the contribution of radiation use efficiency (RUE) to hybrid rice yields under different nitrogen and potassium treatments. In this three-year field experiment, we aimed to evaluate the impact of two hybrid rice varieties (Y-liangyou 900: YLY900 and Quanyouhuazhan: QYHZ) under varying nitrogen regimes (N90: 90 kg N ha-1, N120: 120 kg N ha-1, N180: 180 kg N ha-1) and potassium regimes (K120: 120 kg K2O ha-1, K160: 160 kg K2O ha-1, K210: 210 kg K2O ha-1) on grain yield and its physiological determinants, including RUE, intercepted photosynthetically active radiation (IPAR), aboveground biomass production, and harvest index (HI). Our results revealed that both rice varieties exhibited significantly higher yields when coupled with nitrogen and potassium fertilization. Compared to the N90 × K120 treatment, the N120 × K160 and N180 × K210 combinations resulted in substantial increases in grain yield (12.0% and 21.1%, respectively) and RUE (11.9% and 21.4%, respectively). The YLY900 variety showed notable yield improvement due to enhanced aboveground biomass production resulting from increased IPAR and RUE. In contrast, the QYHZ variety’s aboveground biomass accumulation was primarily influenced by RUE rather than IPAR, resulting in higher RUE and grain yields of 9.2% and 5.3%, respectively, compared to YLY900. Importantly, fertilization led to significant increases in yield, biomass, and RUE, while HI remained relatively constant. Both varieties demonstrated a positive relationship between grain yield and IPAR and RUE. Multiple regression analysis indicated that increasing RUE was the primary driver of yield improvement in hybrid rice varieties. By promoting sustainable agriculture and enhancing fertilizer management, elevating nitrogen and potassium levels from a low base would synergistically enhance rice yield and RUE, emphasizing the critical importance of RUE in hybrid rice productivity compared to HI.