Root and Shoot Growth of a Modern and an Old Tall Durum Wheat (Triticum durum Desf.) Variety under Dual-Purpose Management

Plants (Basel). 2023 Jan 29;12(3):588. doi: 10.3390/plants12030588.


In dual-purpose cereal systems, the co-production of fodder and grain can increase farm profitability and reduce farming risks. Our work evaluated shoot and root growth in durum wheat (Triticum durum Desf.) under dual-purpose management in a medium-high rainfall area of southern Italy. We compared a modern variety (Core) with a tall ancient variety (Saragolle lucana) under traditional (NDP) and dual-purpose (DP) management and tested the hypothesis that clipping plants during the vegetative stage would reduce root growth and dewatering before anthesis, which is advantageous in drought-prone environments. Experiments were conducted in Bella (PZ), Basilicata region, southern Italy (40°42′ N, 15°32′ E) on a clay loam soil in 2021 in a split-plot design on 2 × 2 main plots and 1 × 2 split-plots with 6 replicates. The DP treatment consisted of simulated grazing by clipping plants at 5 cm from the ground 3 months after sowing (at first hollow stem). Forage Biomass was not different at p = 0.05 between varieties, with an average of 0.58 t ha-1 DM. Grain yield was not penalized by clipping (p = 0.05) and did not differ significantly between varieties. SPAD was always lower in the Saragolle variety and lowered by clipping. Defoliation delayed phenology in both cultivars but did not reduce the final number of spikes per square meter. Stomatal conductance was correlated to temperature, did not differ between cultivars, and was not influenced by clipping. Soil water depletion was monitored in modern wheat from the booting stage to the beginning of grain filling. Clipping did not result in a reduction in pre-anthesis water depletion, possibly due to evaporative losses. Root density was markedly reduced by clipping in core variety between 0.20 and 0.60 m and much less in Saragolle. Unclipped Saragolle produced thicker roots and higher root masses compared to clipped plants. Defoliated Saragolle shifted to finer roots, reducing root mass more than length. This may have reduced the metabolic cost of soil exploration, thereby increasing root foraging efficiency.

PMID:36771671 | DOI:10.3390/plants12030588


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