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Durum wheat ( Triticum turgidum L. var. durum Desf.) is commonly grown in Mediterranean conditions, where temperature stress during grain filling can limit productivity. This research was performed to evaluate the effect of temperature during grain filling on dry matter and nitrogen dynamics in two Italian durum wheat varieties, Appio and Creso, grown with different nitrogen availabilities. The experiment compared two different temperature regimens, one within the normal range occurring during grain filling in Central Italy, the other within the normal range occurring in the southern regions of Italy (20/15 °C and 28/23 °C day/night, respectively). Plants were grown in pots outdoor until anthesis and afterward were placed in growth chambers. Results showed that nitrogen fertilization and post-anthesis temperature affected growth, accumulation and partitioning of dry matter and N in durum wheat which, in turn, modified grain yield and N content. Grain yield was better expressed at 20/15 °C, while grain protein concentration was favoured under the 28/23 °C temperature regime. Higher temperature promoted remobilization of dry matter and restrained current photosynthesis, but reduced grain yield, indicating that the loss of photosynthesis could not compensate for the gain from increased remobilization. Grain N content, on the contrary, was promoted under the higher temperature regime, as high temperature reduced N remobilization but did not inhibit root water and nitrogen uptake, given that no water shortage occur.

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Shifts in sowing date change the combination of temperature and photoperiod to which durum wheat is exposed, affecting crop phenology and grain yield. Three durum wheat ( Triticum turgidum L. var. durum ) varieties were field sown at month intervals over a whole year. The number of spikelets on the main culm and the duration of the period of spikelet initiation were recorded. Grain yield, spike number, and mean kernel weight were determined, too. With all sowing dates, plants formed a spike within the main culm and reached the stage of first node detectable. Physiological maturity was achieved only for sowings performed between October and May. Grain yield was highest in November and both yield and yield components were strongly affected by sowing date. The number of spikelets ranged from 11 to 24, according to sowing date and variety. It decreased from November to May in consequence of the shorter initiation period, and we hypothesize that a 12-h-daylength or longer interrupts spikelet initiation. The decrease of spikelet number was the main determinant of yield reduction with the delay of sowing from November to March.

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Cereal Research Communications
Authors: S. Pampana, A. Masoni, L. Ercoli, M. Mariotti, and I. Arduini

Optimum nitrogen fertilizer management for wheat production is important for maximum economic yield and minimum pollution of the environment. A lysimetric trial was conducted in Central Italy during 2008–2009 and 2009–2010 on durum wheat varieties Latinur and Svevo to evaluate effects of ammonium sulphate and Entec 46 at sowing, of ammonium sulphate and urea at topdressing and of three split applications (0–90–90, 30–75–75 and 60–60–60 kg N ha−1) of the same amount of nitrogen on grain yield and yield components, N uptake and N leaching. Grain yield was higher in Latinur than in Svevo. The highest production was achieved in 2009 with the 60–60–60 splitting, and in 2010 with 0–90–90. In both years, the highest total N uptake was recorded with the 30–75–75 splitting, regardless of N source. Nitrogen leaching increased with the increasing amount of N rate at sowing. Amount of N-NO3 lost by leaching during wheat cycle was 25 kg ha−1, almost entirely accounted for N leaching in the period November–January.

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Soil gravel content affects many soil physical properties, as well as crop yield. Little is known regarding the influence of soil gravel content on growth and nutrient uptake of durum wheat ( Triticum durum Desf.). The accumulation of nitrogen and phosphorous during the vegetative and reproductive periods and the contribution of pre-anthesis assimilates to grain N and P content have been evaluated in two durum wheat varieties grown on soils with 0, 10, 20 and 30% gravel content. The two varieties showed similar behaviour and the increase of soil gravel decreased plant biomass during the entire biological cycle. Nitrogen and P concentration of all plant parts was not affected by soil gravel content, while N and P content was greatly reduced, owing to the effect on dry matter yield. Post-anthesis accumulation and remobilization of N and P were greatly reduced: the decrease from gravel-free soil to 30% gravel content was about 41 kg N ha −1 and 4 kg P ha −1 for the former and 14 kg N ha −1 and 2 kg P ha −1 for the latter. The differences in growth rate were attributed to differences in development of the root system due to the restricted soil volume.

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