Constraints to achieving high potential yield of wheat in a temperate, high-rainfall environment in south-eastern Australia
Botwright Acuna, T and Dean, G and Riffkin, P, Constraints to achieving high potential yield of wheat in a temperate, high-rainfall environment in south-eastern Australia, Crop and Pasture Science, 62, (2) pp. 125-136. ISSN 1836-0947 (2011) [Refereed Article]
Average wheat yields in the high-rainfall zone (HRZ) of southern Australia are predicted to be around 10 t ha–1, yet most regions fall short through a lack of locally adapted cultivars or abiotic stress that constrains yield. Wheat yields in Tasmania can be variable but have exceeded this potential yield in some field trials and have thus approached that of other traditionally high-yielding HRZ environments such as northern Europe. A contributing factor to high wheat yields in Tasmania is the cool-temperate climate, which tends not to have extremes in temperature (cold, heat) as may be experienced in HRZ environments elsewhere. Hence an understanding of crop growth, development and yield of wheat of locally adapted wheat cultivars in Tasmania may improve our understanding of the basis of yield formation in other HRZ in Australia. This was evaluated by conducting an analysis for adaptive response of grain yield in 10 wheat genotypes to a range of 14 environments that were favourable for wheat production or experienced constraints to growth. Crop growth and yield formation was then examined in detail for all or a subset of these genotypes in three field trials with contrasting environments, two of which included a time of sowing (TOS) treatment. Environment accounted for around 90% of the sum of squares (SS) in the multi-site analysis of yield. Six environment groups were identified using cluster analysis, two of which were clearly separated in response to frost at flowering or putative biotic stress, which constrained yield to 1.8 and 6.8 t ha–1, respectively. Waterlogging was also a significant abiotic stress in one of the TOS field trials. The late-flowering cultivar Tennant had the highest yield in the presence of waterlogging and by avoiding frost at flowering, although it suffered a yield penalty of 35 and 66%, respectively, compared with the average across environments. The highest-yielding genotypes averaged 8 t ha–1 across environments and included Alberic, the breeding line K37.18 and the new release Revenue. In the detailed experiments on crop growth and development, high grain yields of 10 t ha–1 in Mackellar appeared to be due to increased grains ear–1, resistance to barley yellow dwarf virus and possibly higher radiation-use efficiency, although the latter needs to be confirmed. There was little genotype × environment interaction for grain yield, hence wheat breeders can have a relatively high level of confidence that genetic material with high yield potential should rank consistently across Tasmanian environments. Results presented in the paper will be useful in developing management and breeding strategies to increase potential yield across the HRZ of southern Australia.