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EVALUATION OF A GERMPLASM COLLECTION OF FENUGREEK (TRIGONELLA FOENUM-GRAECUM).

K. M. McCormick1, R. M. Norton1 and H. A Eagles 2

1 Joint Centre for Crop Improvement, Longerenong College, University of Melbourne, Horsham, Victoria, 3401.
2
Joint Centre for Crop Improvement, Victorian Institute for Dryland Agriculture, Horsham, Victoria, 3401.

Abstract

Two hundred and seven accessions of Fenugreek, Trigonella foenum-graecum from 20 countries were grown in the Victorian Wimmera and compared for flowering time and duration, growth habit and seed yield. Flowering commencement ranged from 98 days after sowing to 147 days after sowing. Flowering duration ranged from 14 to 52 days and growth habits ranged from prostrate to erect. Seed yield varied from 0 kg/ha to 3487kg/ha with the currently grown genotype yielding only 1278 kg/ha. Significant variation occurred among the lines for all traits and the variation among countries was also significant.

Key words: Fenugreek, Trigonella foenum-graecum, genetic resources

Trigonella foenum-graecum has been grown to a limited extent in Australia since the mid 1980s. This leguminous species is used as a green manure crop, for seed production for the Asian condiment market or as a forage species. One major factor restricting the expansion of Fenugreek production is the limited evaluation of genetic material of the species. One advantage of Fenugreek over other "new crops" is its variety of uses at different crop stages. The objective of this study was to assess a collection of Trigonella foenum-graecum accessions for its morphological and physiological diversity in order to develop plant selection criteria for green manure, seed and pasture types suited to temperate climatic conditions. This paper reports the diversity exhibited for flowering time, growth habit and seed yield.

Materials and methods

Two hundred accessions of Trigonella foenum-graecum originating from 20 countries were sown in June, 1997, at Longerenong College, Dooen, Victoria on alkaline, grey, self-mulching clay. Seeds were inoculated with Rhizobium meliloti Trigonella strain before propagation in seedling trays. The accessions were transplanted 11-20 days after sowing into two row plots in an augmented in-complete block design. Flowering commencement was recorded when 50 % of plants in a plot had commenced flowering. Flowering duration was recorded as number of days from the start to finish of flowering. Growth habit during early flowering was scored on a 1 to 5 scale where 1 was very prostrate and 5 was very erect. Nodulation of the plant roots was scored at flowering time on a scale of 0 to 5, where 0 indicated the absence of nodules and 5 indicated an abundance of healthy nodules. Total plot yield was recorded and yield components were determined on 5 plants per plot. Data were analysed by Residual Maximum Likelihood (REML) analysis using Genstat Version 3.1.

Results and discussion

Table 1 summarises the estimated means and ranges for flowering commencement, flowering duration, growth habit and yield. Significant variation (P< 0.05) occurred among all accessions for the characters observed and there were significant differences among lines originating from different countries. Flowering commencement occurred over 7 weeks from mid September to early November, while flowering lasted between 14 and 52 days with most accessions flowering for 30 to 40 days. Growth habits ranged from very prostrate (1) to very erect (5). There was a strong relationship between growth habit and flowering commencement with late flowering lines more prostrate (r = -0.55, P<0.01). Russian and Afghan lines were quite late flowering, whereas Middle Eastern countries contained some very early flowering lines. The prostrate, late flowering types are not suitable for seed production but could be useful as pasture species, however some of the lines displayed poor vigour and do not appear to adapted to this environment.

Table 1: Flowering, growth habit and yield data for fenugreek accessions grouped by country of origin.

Origin

Number of accessions

Days from sowing to first flower

Flowering duration (days)

Growth habit score

Seed yield
(kg/ha)

   

Range

Mean

Range

Mean

Range

Mean

Range

Mean

All

207

98-147

111

14-52

40

1-5

3

0-3487

1613

Check Line1

1

-

110

-

39

-

4

-

1278

Afghanistan

11

113-129

122

27-40

36

1-3

1

721-2068

1524

Algeria

3

112-114

113

35-52

39

1-3

2

236-1288

621

Egypt

22

102-110

106

38-51

44

2-5

4

377-2688

1274

Ethiopia

16

103-125

109

37-47

42

1-4

3

200-2228

1300

India

30

103-112

108

33-44

39

1-4

3

467-3003

1873

Iran

33

98-123

114

33-50

41

1-4

3

814-3483

1788

Morocco

5

105-110

108

36-44

41

3-3

3

1353-3279

2484

Oman

13

106-113

110

34-45

40

3-5

4

475-1683

1025

Pakistan

23

103-125

110

31-45

38

1-4

2

575-2619

1796

Spain

4

112-147

122

14-40

32

1-2

2

2-2369

1469

Syria

3

103-110

106

38-43

41

2-3

3

1357-3122

1967

Turkey

19

109-120

111

35-47

40

1-3

3

233-2903

2075

USSR

9

113-133

118

20-44

41

1-4

2

221-1424

697

1 Check Line was supplied by Revell seeds Dimboola, and is the dominant line grown commercially in Victoria

Seventy-five accessions yielded 150 % or more, of the check line seed yield. Forty-seven of these accessions flowered early (at the same time or before the mean) and had semi-erect or erect growth habits (score ≥ 3). These lines could be suitable for seed production in the Wimmera and the drier Mallee environment. Most lines tested previously in the Mallee have been too late flowering and therefore poor yielding in that environment (G. Castleman pers. comm.). Accessions from Iran, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Morocco and Syria yielded well (Table 1). Several lines have been selected for testing in multi-location trials in 1998. Table 2 describes five of the high yielding accessions. These lines exhibited greater branching and more pods per plant than the Check Line and had greater root nodulation except for one accession.

Table 2: Characteristics of higher yielding lines compared to the Check Line

Accession

Origin

Seed yield
(kg/ha)

Yield as % of check-line
(%)

Days from sowing to first flower

Growth Habit

Nodulation Score
(1-5)

Branches per plant

Pods per plant

Check Line

Unknown

1278

100

110

4

2

10

57

A147

Iran

3483

272

103

2

4

18

98

A277

Egypt

2688

210

102

4

4

16

90

A169

India

2714

212

110

4

4

9

66

A297

Syria

3122

244

103

3

4

20

153

A265

Morocco

2549

199

110

3

1

19

151

Conclusion

This collection of Trigonella foenum-graecum contains accessions that vary widely in growth habit, flowering time and seed yield with more than half the collection yielding higher than the currently grown genotype. This is a good starting point for selecting lines, or providing breeding material with traits suited to the south-eastern Australian cropping environment.

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