Tillering and yield formation of a temperate Japonica rice cultivar in a Mediterranean rice agrosystem
AbstractRice tillering is a crucial stage for yield formation. Deep understanding of the relationship between tillering dynamics and yield formation in a particular agrosystem is crucial to boost rice productivity. Research on rice tillering is mainly focused on tropical agrosystems whereas less is done in the Mediterranean, with direct water-seeding and Japonica cultivars. This study aims at characterizing tillering dynamics and identifying the main explanatory tillering traits of yield in a Mediterranean rice agrosystem, Ebro Delta (Northern Spain). A temperate Japonica cultivar grown in Spain, Gleva, was utilized. Plants and tillers were tagged to assess emergence and fertility ratios and grain yield; while changes in tillering number over time, yield and yield components for unit area were measured. Plant and tillering dynamics in the Ebro Delta rice fields can be accurately predicted through equations herein provided, which are based either on thermal time or leaf development. Plants grown under regional standard agricultural practices produced up to eight primary tillers of which two or three become productive. Maximum tiller number was the main explanatory variable of yield while high-yielding tillers within a plant are located on nodes with the highest emergence ratios and, after the main stem, they are the major contributors to yield. The decisive role of tiller development on yield along with the predictability of tiller dynamics raises options to optimize grain yield through tillering modulation. In this sense, results from this study suggests the promotion of early tillering followed by inhibition of late tillering as a strategy of tillering regulation.
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