Balancing pre- and post-anthesis growth to maximize water-limited yield in cereals

Article


Borrell, Andrew K., Christopher, John T., Kelly, Alison, Collins, Brian and Chenu, Karine. 2023. "Balancing pre- and post-anthesis growth to maximize water-limited yield in cereals." Field Crops Research. 296. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fcr.2023.108919
Article Title

Balancing pre- and post-anthesis growth to maximize water-limited yield in cereals

ERA Journal ID5309
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsBorrell, Andrew K., Christopher, John T., Kelly, Alison, Collins, Brian and Chenu, Karine
Journal TitleField Crops Research
Journal Citation296
Article Number108919
Number of Pages19
Year2023
PublisherElsevier
Place of PublicationNetherlands
ISSN0378-4290
1872-6852
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fcr.2023.108919
Web Address (URL)https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0378429023001120
Abstract

To maximize cereal yield in water-limited environments where crops rely on stored soil moisture, pre-anthesis growth and water-use must be balanced to create a sink demand at anthesis that can be filled by the remaining water after anthesis. We hypothesize that canopy development in cereals is a key regulator of biomass and water allocation before and after anthesis, affecting stem reserve mobilization, nitrogen dynamics and grain yield in water-limited environments. In drought-prone regions where crops heavily depend on stored soil moisture, crops facing end-of-season drought must conserve water during early growth to ensure that sufficient water is available for grain filling. To better understand this balance, we expressed the ratio between post- and pre-anthesis biomass as an index, designated as the ‘biomass rationing index’ (BRI). This index was evaluated in three cereal species (sorghum, wheat and barley) in multiple seasons and environments to examine the extent to which it could be manipulated by genetics and management. BRI was negatively correlated with canopy size at anthesis and was positively correlated with stay-green, change in post-anthesis stem biomass, nitrogen content at maturity, and ultimately grain yield. Results suggest that post-anthesis water availability was closely linked to pre-anthesis green leaf area and biomass, and that at least in environments where crops relied on stored soil moisture, limiting canopy size was an effective strategy to ensure adequate water availability for grain filling in the face of end-of-season drought. A range of genetic strategies (genes regulating tillering, leaf size, stomatal conductance, transpiration per leaf area, hydraulic resistance, root architecture) and management strategies (pre-crop factors, plant density, nitrogen fertilization, weed control, crop rotations, weed control, soil type) could be used to manipulate BRI.We propose BRI as a simple indicator to provide new insights on how water-limited yield in cereals can be maximized by better balancing pre- and post-anthesis growth.

KeywordsBiomass partitioning ; Crop water use ; Drought adaptation ; Stored soil moisture ; Stay-green ; Stem reserves ; Genotype×management×environment; interaction; Lodging resistance
Article Publishing Charge (APC) FundingOther
Contains Sensitive ContentDoes not contain sensitive content
Sensitive Handling NoteContains explicit content
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020300499. Crop and pasture production not elsewhere classified
310806. Plant physiology
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Byline AffiliationsUniversity of Queensland
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland
James Cook University
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