Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

An evaluation of lines of uniculm barley

G.K. McDonald

Department of Agronomy Waite Agricultural Research Institute Glen Osmond S.A. 5064

Donald (1,2) suggested that a cereal plant with restricted tillering would probably achieve high yields. Although his original ideotype was designed for high-yielding environments, subsequent work with wheat has indicated that restricted tillering may be a useful attribute in lower yielding environments as well (3). Donald began a breeding programme based on his ideotype. Comparisons between the tillered variety, Clipper, and a uniculm line, WID101 demonstrated the higher yield potential of the uniculm line in certain years (2). However, little further work followed.

Recently McDonald (4) reported the results of a single comparison between tillered and uniculm lines over a range of seeding rates which did not agree with Donald's original results. This paper presents the results of further comparisons between tillered and uniculm lines.


The commercial varieties Schooner and Galleon were compared with the uniculm lines WID103 and WID105 at 4 sowing rates in 1986, 1987 and 1988. Sowing rates over the 4 experiments ranged from 50 - 400kg/ha. Nitrogen fertiliser (20 kg N/ha) was applied at sowing. In 1987 and 1988 a further 20 kg N/ha was applied post-sowing. The experiments were conducted at Strathalbyn (annual rainfall, = 492 mm) and in 1988, the Waite Institute (annual rainfall, = 626 mm). Emergence counts, dry matter production at ear emergence, grain yield and yield components were measured.

Results and discussion

The results of the 3 experiments conducted in 1987 and 1988 confirmed those obtained in 1986 (4). In each experiment, the tillered varieties yielded as much or more than the 2 uniculm lines. Over the 4 experiments, the average yield of the tillered barleys was 6% more than the uniculm lines (range 0-15%). These results are different to those of Donald (2). He found that the higher yield of the uniculm line was due to its higher harvest index (HI) but in my experiments, there was little difference between the HIs of the uniculm and tillered barleys (average of 4 experiments : Schooner = 0.42; Galleon = 0.46; WID103 = 0.45; WID105 = 0.47). These experiments suggest that the uniculm habit is not an advantage in barley in environments similar to those of Strathalbyn.

1. Donald, C.M. (1968), Euphytica 17, 385-403.

2. Donald, C.M. (1979), J. Agric. Sci. Cambr. 93, 261-269.

3. Islam, T.M.T. and Sedgley, R.H. (1981), Euphytica 30, 277-282.

4. McDonald, G.K. (1987), Proc. 4th Aust. Agron. Conf. p. 341.

Previous PageTop Of PageNext Page