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  • Author or Editor: Y. Rharrabti x
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The present work analysed whether grain weight is affected by changes in source:sink ratio in twenty-four durum wheat cultivars from Italy and Spain released through the 20 th century grown under Mediterranean conditions. For this purpose, a field experiment was conducted during the 2002 growing-season in southeastern Spain. Sink strength was modified by removing half of the spikelets, of one side of the spike, one week after anthesis. Spikelet trimming had different effects on both average grain weight and individual grain weight at different positions within the spike. While old cultivars did not respond positively to spikelet trimming, and appear to be mainly sink-limited, intermediate and modern cultivars from Spain increased their grain weight in response to sink reductions, suggesting co-limitation by the sink and source. On the contrary, grain weight of intermediate and modern Italian cultivars remained relatively unchanged suggesting a sink-limitation to grain yield. The differential response to source-sink manipulations observed between Italian and Spanish cultivars could be attributed to their different genetic background, which determines their level of adaptation to harsh Mediterranean environments.

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A set of ten durum wheat genotypes was grown in experiments conducted under four contrasting Mediterranean conditions during three years to assess the effect of latitude and water regime on grain growth and grain yield formation. The relationship between grain weight and accumulated growing degree-days (GDD) from anthesis was described by a logistic equation and final grain weight ( W ) and maximum rate ( R ) and duration ( D ) of grain filling were calculated from the fitted curves. Thousand kernel weight (TKW) was positively related to grain yield at both latitudes and water regimes, although the contribution of the number of grains per m 2 to final yield was only significant in the south, where environmental constraints likely limited the achievement of a large grain set. Differences in final grain weight between latitudes could be mostly explained by differences in the grain filling rate, while changes on W between water regimes were due to altered grain filling durations. Under northern conditions grain yield was positively associated to grain filling duration but negatively related to the maximum rate of grain filling, while in the south the coefficients of the grain filling curves had little or no effect on final yield. Reductions in grain yield under rainfed conditions were due to the fall in the number of grains per m 2 since TKW was not significantly affected by drought.

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