Cactus versus climate change

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

ICARDA is helping to develop new sources of livestock fodder such as spineless cactus, Opuntia ficus indica. This hardy, drought-tolerant species is widely grown in North Africa, partly as a result of joint research projects in the region; but adoption in West Asia is limited by the near-freezing winter temperatures. Seventy-three cactus genotypes from 11 countries are being evaluated for drought and cold tolerance, and adaptation to agro-ecologies in West Asia. The genotypes were tested under different conditions: in the greenhouse, in a shaded area (to avoid very low night temperatures), and in the open field. The experiments measured the effect of cold, planting date and agronomic practices on plant survival and vigor.

During the winter, over 90% of the genotypes in the field plot apparently succumbed to cold. But once the weather started to improve in spring, growing points began to emerge even from under the ground. About half the accessions survived the harsh winter. Twelve genotypes from Argentina were particularly cold-tolerant, with 100% survival.

For more information contact Dr Mounir Louhaichi, rangeland ecologist, email

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