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The effect of sowing date, irrigation and cultivar on the growth and yield of wheat in the Namoi River Valley, New South Wales


A factorial experiment which examined the effects of sowing date, cultivar and irrigation frequency on the growth and grain yield of irrigated wheat was conducted at Narrabri, New South Wales. Irrigation scheduling was based on morning values of leaf water potentials (Ψl): plots were watered when Ψl, had fallen to either −0.8 MPa or −0.4 MPa or were not irrigated during the season.

Maximum leaf areas, tiller numbers and total dry matter production were increased by more frequent irrigation, but subsequent tiller death and leaf senescence were generally not reduced by increasing watering. A delay in sowing from 23 June to 23 July reduced yields by 20%, on average. More frequent irrigation increased yields at both sowing dates, but a high protein, locally bred wheat (Songlen) responded less than a cultivar derived from the CIMMYT program (WW 15). The highest yield for Songlen was 570 g m−2 which was lower than the highest yield for WW 15 (730 g m−2); both were obtained from the −0.4 MPa treatment sown on 23 June. Compared with irrigated wheat grown in Mexico or southern New South Wales, dry matter production after anthesis at Narrabri was low. It was suggested that high temperatures after anthesis may limit post-anthesis productivity and subsequently, grain yields. The results of this experiment suggested that yields of irrigated wheat in the lower Namoi Valley can be improved through better irrigation management and varietal improvement, but the magnitude of this response may be limited by high spring temperatures.

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McDonald, G.K., Sutton, B.G. & Ellison, F.W. The effect of sowing date, irrigation and cultivar on the growth and yield of wheat in the Namoi River Valley, New South Wales. Irrig Sci 5, 123–135 (1984).

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  • Leaf Senescence
  • Leaf Water Potential
  • Tiller Number
  • Irrigation Schedule
  • Sowing Date