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Breeding Opportunities For Increasing The Efficiency Of Water Use And Crop Yield In Temperate Cereals.

R. Richards, G. Rebetzke, A. G. Condon, A. F. van Herwaarden
Published 2002 · Biology, Medicine

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Genetic advances in grain yield under rainfed conditions have been achieved by empirical breeding methods. Progress is slowed, however, by large genotype x season and genotype x location interactions arising from unpredictable rainfall, which is a feature of dry environments. A good understanding of factors limiting and/or regulating yield now provides us with an opportunity to identify and then select for physiological and morphological traits that increase the efficiency of water use and yield under rainfed conditions. The incorporation of these traits into breeders' populations should broaden their genetic base. It also may lead to faster selection methods and selection for the traits may result in correlated gains in yield. Here, we undertake a review of factors that limit yield in rainfed environments and discuss genetic opportunities and genetic progress in overcoming them. The examples given are for wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), but the principles apply to all cereal crops grown in dry environments.
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