Bread wheat: high yield plus drought tolerance

June 12, 2012 at 7:35 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bread wheat trials at Tel Hadya (barley at extreme left). Multi-environment testing helps breeders combine multiple traits into a single genotype

ICARDA breeders are developing new varieties of spring, winter and facultative bread wheat that combine high yield potential and high water use efficiency – giving bumper yields in good years and acceptable yields in dry years.

Experiments on spring wheat at Tel Hadya cover about 40 hectares. Some 1500 genotypes are being evaluated in advanced yield trials. Despite the lack of rainfall during the grain-filling stage, several genotypes are expected to yield substantially more than most currently available varieties. The difference could be as high as 50% under rainfed conditions and 30% under irrigation. Many more genotypes are being evaluated for drought and cold tolerance, and resistance to yellow rust – the biggest disease threat to wheat crops in West Asia and North Africa.

New winter wheat varieties: high and stable yields, cold and drought tolerance, high-quality grain

The same genotypes are also being evaluated in Egypt, Ethiopia, Morocco and Sudan. This ensures that breeders have large, reliable datasets from multiple environments: on yield potential (from irrigated environments in Egypt); Hessian fly and Septoria resistance (from hot-spots in Morocco); stem and yellow rust resistance (Ethiopia); and Septoria resistance and heat tolerance (Sudan).In facultative/winter wheat, several highly promising genotypes were identified, giving yields of up to 6.5 t/ha with limited amounts of irrigation, and 2.5 t/ha under rainfed conditions. They combine high yield potential, drought tolerance, yellow rust resistance and good grain quality. These genotypes are also being tested by national research programs in more than 20 countries. This approach, facilitated by ICARDA’s international nurseries program, accelerates testing, sharing of results, and eventual release of new varieties.

For more information contact Dr Tadesse Wuletaw, wheat breeder, email W.Tadesse@cgiar.org; and Dr Osman Abdalla, wheat breeder, email O.Abdalla@cgiar.org

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